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University of New Brunswick

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Current SMR-related research activities

UNB-CNER is a partner in the New Brunswick Small Modular Reactor Research and Development Cluster (NB SMR R&D Cluster), a collaborative partnership between the Province of NB, NB Power, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, and two SMR vendors (Moltex Energy and ARC Nuclear Canada Inc). UNB-CNER participation in the cluster involves:

  • Ongoing renovation of existing laboratory space at CNER to create a world-class, state-of-the-art research facility, the Advanced Nuclear Reactors Laboratory (ANRL), for advanced nuclear systems, specifically for molten salts and liquid metals (sodium).
  • Collaboration with ARC Nuclear Canada on sodium chemistry and materials research
    • Currently in the design stage of a small, recirculating liquid sodium test loop, which will act as a scaled demonstration for sodium handling, providing industry, government and the public confidence that the technology is well-managed and easily handled.
    • Collaboration is underway with NRCan’s CanmetMATERIALS facility in Hamilton, Ontario, to lay out the material production pathway and material properties for HT9, an alloy that has previously demonstrated excellent mechanical properties for use in fast-reactor systems.
    • Collaboration has been initiated with Queen’s University, with plans to simulate irradiation of the HT9 materials using the proton beam facility at their Reactor Materials Testing Laboratory.
    • Collaboration is underway with UNB’s Marine Additive Manufacturing Centre (MAMC) for 3-D printing of model reactor components fabricated from HT9.
  • Collaboration with Moltex Energy Canada
    • Prototype electrochemical cell design and commissioning: in the commissioning stages for an electro-reduction and a salt exchange cell that will be used as a proof-of-concept for the Moltex Energy WATSS (WAste To Stable Salt) process, which repurposes spent oxide nuclear fuel for use in their proposed SSR-W or “Waste-burner” reactor. This work comprises the initial stage of the Oxide Nuclear WAste Reduction Demonstration (ONWARD) program, where data obtained at UNB will be ported to CNL for further experiments in their hot-cell facilities.
    • Preparation, purification and quantification of relevant molten salt systems: currently engaged in accurately measuring the thermophysical properties of various molten salts of interest to Moltex Energy.
    • Modelling of molten salt systems (FactSage thermochemical database and COMSOL Multiphysics).
    • Investigation into the corrosion of selected metals and alloys in relevant chloride and fluoride molten salt systems.
    • Collaboration has been initiated with Canadian Nuclear Laboratories to obtain both materials, e.g., natural uranium, and the training required to perform all of the above activities.
  • Applications for funding through the John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF) and Innovation Fund (IF) through the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, and New Brunswick Foundation for Innovation grant programs to leverage existing funding towards the above activities.

SMR-related education, training, and related capacity-building

UNB Engineering

  • Hiring of new Faculty members in Chemical / Nuclear Engineering
  • Re-launching of the Nuclear and Engineering Option programs within the Chemical Engineering Department at the undergraduate level effective September 2019.
    • This option has not been offered at UNB for over a decade due to faculty retirements and changes in research focus within the departments.
    • Courses offered include: Introduction to Nuclear Engineering, Corrosion Processes, Nuclear Chemical Processes, Nuclear Safety and Reliability etc.
  • Addition of a dedicated nuclear stream to the Engineering Co-op program, with 16-month placement options in a variety of departments at Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station, including Reactor Safety, Systems, Design, Reactor Physics, Chemistry, etc.
  • Re-launch of the UNB Chapter of the NAYGN

CNER

  • Training of Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) at the Master’s, Ph.D., Research Assistant, and Postdoctoral levels both in-house at CNER and via on-site work at the Chalk River Laboratories facilities and at NRCan’s CanmetMATERIALS facility.
    • A MSc. level student is scheduled to spend 6-8 months at the CanmetMATERIALS.
    • A MSc. level student and a Postdoctoral fellow are scheduled to spend up to a year at Chalk River Laboratories.
  • Participation of HQP and staff in a variety of research conferences, including the annual Canadian Nuclear Society Conference and the CNS/CNA Student Conference.

Current capacity building by staffing full-time Research Engineers and a Research Associate to oversee all SMR-related R&D activities at UNB-CNER

ACTIONS

CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
National SMR development research program
STATUS: IN PROGRESS

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 13, 29, 39, 48, 49, 50

ACTIONS

  • Expand UNB-CNER’s research laboratory capabilities
  • Targeted R&D demonstrating operational characteristics of SMR designs
  • Hire new professors and research scientists to expand UNB’s capabilities and expertise

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • New laboratory facilities for studying materials and chemistry of sodium fast reactors and molten salt reactors
  • Enhanced knowledge of the operations and safety of SMR designs
  • Two new professors hired over next three years.    Additional Research Associates, Post Doctoral Fellows and graduate students hired, trained and contributing to the SMR development programs and deployment activities.  Expanded nuclear engineering curriculum to provide HQPs to the growing nuclear sector in NB, Canada and abroad.