Author Archives: Erin Polka

Russia to build nuclear rocket bound for Mars and beyond

Design concept of the Russian nuclear-powered rocket.

The race to Mars and back to the moon is on and in November a Russian researcher announced a bold plan in the next generation of space travel.

Popular Mechanics reported that Vladimir Koshlakov, the head of Russia’s Keldysh Research Center, said he wants to build a nuclear-powered rocket.

Koshlakov said the rocket could be used to travel to Mars and beyond.

“A mission to Mars is possible in the very near future, but that’s not an aim in itself. Our engines can be the foundation for a whole range of space missions that currently seem like science fiction,” he said, adding that there was no timeline on when the rockets would be ready.

Their engine, he claims, could get to the moon in just a few days and Mars in seven or eight months.

The proposed design, which has been in the works since 2009, uses a unique propulsion system that is comprised of a gas-cooled fission reactor that powers a generator, which in turn feeds a plasma thruster.

Nuclear power has been used for space travel since 1961. Radioisotope Thermal Generators (RTGs) have been used for numerous space probes and missions. But a nuclear-powered rocket used for a mission would be a new development.

Both the U.S. and Russia had nuclear-powered rocket programs in the 1950s and ‘60s, but research was stopped in the ‘70s and ‘80s when both projects ran out of funding.

Nuclear researchers produce the rarest drug on Earth

In September, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) and TRIUMF announced they were teaming up on the commercial production of what’s been called “the rarest drug on earth.”

Actinium-225 is an alpha-emitting isotope with a short half-life that can be combined with a protein or antibody that specifically targets cancer cells. It has shown promise in experimental uses on late stage cancer patients to kills cancer cells.

Each year, the entire world only makes an amount equal to the weight of a few grains of sand.

The TRIUMF cyclotron centre in Vancouver had been discarding substantial amounts of Ac-225 for years, unaware of its potential.

Under terms of the partnership, TRIUMF’s high energy proton beam will be used to manufacture the isotope, while CNL’s nuclear-licensed handling and production facilities will be used to process the material.

The partnership could see an increase of hundreds of thousands of treatments globally, according to Triumf.

“We are delighted to partner with CNL on this important initiative, which has the potential to transform the lives of people who suffer from untreatable cancers,” said Kathryn Hayashi, Chief Executive Officer of TRIUMF Innovations, the laboratory’s commercialization arm, in a statement.

“This agreement will allow TRIUMF to leverage one of our core assets, the 520 MeV cyclotron, and our scientists and engineers, to produce this isotope on a scale that would enable more clinical development to make treatment available for patients with a wide spectrum of cancers that we can’t fight effectively using today’s technologies.”

“With over one billion medical treatments conducted using isotopes produced at the Chalk River Laboratories, CNL has served as a global leader in nuclear medicine for decades,” said Mark Lesinski, President and CEO of CNL, in a statement. “We view this agreement with TRIUMF as a natural evolution of this work, which will require industry-tested proficiencies in target manufacturing, radiochemistry, radioisotope analysis, and nuclear and chemical by-product management.

CNL and TRIUMF also recently announced that they will co-host the 11th Targeted-Alpha-Therapy Symposium (TAT11), a global forum for academic and industry leaders to meet and discuss the latest technical, regulatory and clinical developments in targeted radiopharmaceutical therapy. The event will be held in April 2019 in Ottawa.

Top Five Takeaways from the 2019 Leadership Conference for Women in Energy

By Emily James, Communications Officer, Canadian Nuclear Association

On April 16 and 17, 2019 some of Canada’s most successful female energy leaders met in Toronto to share their industry knowledge and experience with professionals from across Canada’s energy sector.

Currently, 7.6 million women represent 48% of the working population in Canada. In the electricity sector, women make up only 26% of the workforce.

In addition to analyzing key trends in the global energy market, panel sessions and group discussions did not shy away from the issues facing women in a traditionally male-dominated industry.

Skill development workshops on mastering negotiation and activating your own power to change the world of work encouraged attendees to leverage their strengths to improve organizational performance and move up.

Here are five empowering takeaways from the conference that will encourage women (and men) in their professions:

  1. Dive in!

Don’t get caught up in the details when starting a project or presentation. According to Annette Verschuren, Chair and Chief Executive Officer of NRStar Inc., a progressive energy storage development company, and former president of Home Depot Canada and president and co-founder of Michael’s of Canada, 60% is ready enough.

Many women believe things must be lined up 100% before taking action, but that can hold you back from taking a risk that could lead to success. Instead, strive for a mediocre strategy and excellent execution.

  1. Use your networks

Aida Cipolla, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Toronto Hydro presented on the importance of building internal and external networks. Cipolla suggests that networking is vital to career and personal growth. It can raise your personal profile, broaden your opportunities, and aid in working through industry challenges by learning from others.

Set a schedule and reminder for regular touch points with your contacts. Check in with those around you and see what you can do to help others reach their goals. Networking is about giving first and receiving later.

  1. Have a “growth mindset”

It’s easy to get discouraged as challenges arise but having a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset can make all the difference when there are obstacles to overcome.

A growth mindset promotes learning from mistakes, challenging oneself, and feeling inspired by the success of others. Individuals with fixed mindsets tend to give up when feeling frustrated, engage in negativity when things don’t work out, and back away from challenges. One way to combat this is by simply doing more and thinking less.

  1. Be aware of unconscious bias

An all-male panel from Hydro One Networks Inc. explained how they became champions for diversity and inclusion after attending a Men Advocating Real Change (MARC) workshop. The program developed by global non-profit Catalyst has been successful in bringing awareness to men and women about the unconscious biases that often exist in the workplace and how to transform them.

Catalyst research revealed that less than half of men in the workplace believe gender stereotyping is a barrier to women’s advancement. By stepping out of their comfort zone and attending a MARC workshop, the panelists gained an understanding for what their colleagues were experiencing and became allies for change.

  1. Don’t give up

Ariana Huffington says that, “Failure is a stepping stone to success.” In this light, challenges become opportunities to help you progress rather than hindrances that hold you back.

Fear of failure can be paralyzing. Speakers suggested building resilience by trying new things and being willing to make mistakes. Detach from the outcome and with each experience, you’ll build the confidence necessary to find the success you seek.

Nuclear industry steps in after GM layoffs

General Motors plant in Oshawa, Ontario.

Ontario’s nuclear industry has reached out to help General Motors (GM) workers affected by the company’s planned closure of their Oshawa, Ontario, plant.

On November 26, GM announced that it would close its Oshawa assembly plant the end of 2019 as part of global restructuring. The closure would affect more than 2,500 jobs at the Oshawa plant.

The layoffs will have a major impact on the Oshawa economy.  According to Unifor, the union representing GM workers, every job at the Oshawa plant is tied to seven spin-off jobs in the community.

But just four days later, Ontario’s nuclear industry stepped in to let Unifor know that it would do what it can to ease the blow to the community and workers.

Bruce Power and Ontario Power Generation (OPG) sent a joint letter to the leadership of Unifor, expressing support for workers at GM Oshawa.

“Bruce Power and Ontario Power Generation recognize the role the auto industry and the Oshawa GM plant have played in Ontario’s economy for decades and we believe that we can play a part in keeping these highly skilled people in high-paying jobs in the nuclear industry,” the letter stated.

“Skilled tradespeople and skilled workers are one of our province’s biggest assets and there is a deficit being predicted in the Ontario labour market. Bruce Power, OPG and the Ontario nuclear fleet support employment and training opportunities for skilled workers.”

At over $25 billion, the refurbishment of Ontario’s nuclear power plants is the largest clean-technology investment in the country.

The refurbishment projects will put thousands of people to work and ensure economic prosperity for the province of Ontario for years to come.

“OPG’s Darlington Refurbishment Project and Bruce Power’s Major Component Replacement (MCR) Program are the two largest infrastructure projects in Ontario. We understand the value of a trained, skilled workforce for Ontario and we look forward to playing a part in keeping Ontario’s workforce employed,” the letter concluded.

Register today for our side event at CEM10/MI-4

You’re invited to attend our side event during the upcoming Clean Energy Ministerial and Mission Innovation (CEM10/MI-4).

Please register here by May 13, 2019.

After this date, the CEM10/MI-4 task team will be closing registration and we will not be able to add you to the list of registrants.

Please note:

  • Background checks will be performed on all registrants.
  • The side event room location will be provided at the registration desk.
  • You must register for each side event separately. The full list of side events can be found here.
  • CNA is located at booth 910 in the Innovation Showcase.
  • Separate registration for the Innovation Showcase is required and can be completed here.

Should you have any questions, please let us know.

We look forward to seeing you in Vancouver.

Millennials concerned about climate change, support new nuclear

By John Barrett, President and CEO, Canadian Nuclear Association
Originally published in QP Briefing, February 26, 2019

This Wednesday, the Canadian Nuclear Association kicks off its 2019 Conference and Trade Show at the Westin Hotel in Ottawa.

The theme of CNA2019 is: “New Nuclear: Generating Solutions for Climate and Health.” Over 800 attendees will talk about the innovations in nuclear technology – and how that makes the future of nuclear energy so different from the past.

There is growing evidence that the millennial generation evaluates and supports innovative technologies more strongly when they are seen to bring real solutions to society’s challenges. First and foremost among the solutions is whether the technology can significantly reduce GHG emissions and help decarbonize our energy supply.

This is where new nuclear comes in. The nuclear industry is undergoing a renaissance in innovative solutions that hold the promise of lifting communities out of energy poverty or coal dependence, while enhancing public health through clean air and medical isotopes. Small, ultra-safe reactors could hold the key to significant reductions in GHG emissions, while providing copious amount of clean electricity to communities and industries alike.

In advance of CNA2019, the independent firm Abacus Data was commissioned to measure the views of young Canadians on climate change and the role that nuclear and small modular reactors (SMRs) may play in reducing emissions.

The findings of the online poll* will be presented by Abacus Data CEO David Coletto at a keynote address at the conference on February 28. But here in advance are some of the highlights.

  • Young people were the most concerned about climate change. Sixty-two per cent of those 18-to-29 in age said they were extremely or very concerned about the issue, compared with 54 per cent nationally.
  • Those 18-to-29 were also more likely to say a shift from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy sources was extremely or very important – 69 per cent, compared with 58 per cent for the general population.
  • While the 18-to-29 age group was most likely to believe that nuclear energy created more carbon pollution than oil, they were strongly in support of nuclear replacing higher emitting energy sources after being informed that nuclear was a low-carbon technology.
  • Eighty-nine per cent of those 18-to-29 supported or were open to using nuclear in this scenario, compared to 83 per cent of the overall population.
  • The poll also found that 86 per cent of those 18-to-29 supported or were open to SMRs as an alternative to fossil fuels.

Most importantly, the data shows that when young people, who are most concerned about climate change, are informed that nuclear and new nuclear are low-carbon sources, they quickly become strong supporters.

Canada is home to new nuclear. The innovation is happening throughout the nuclear industry.

It is happening in advanced reactor design, refurbishment of our CANDU fleet, development and use of robotics and 3D printing and artificial intelligence, development of alternative clean power sources such as hydrogen that can be generated through nuclear power.

Canada is emerging internationally as a leading country for the research, development and regulation of small modular reactors, which offer to small and remote communities the possibility, hitherto beyond reach, of unlimited, reliable clean electricity and heat on a 24/7 basis.

All this tells us that new nuclear is not a dream. It’s not around the corner. It’s here now. Come to CNA2019 and see for yourself!

*The survey was conducted online with 2,500 Canadians aged 18+ in February 2019. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample is +/- 1.96 per cent, 19 times out of 20. The data were weighted according to census to ensure sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, education, region.