The 2017 Canadian Nuclear Factbook is Available NOW!

The latest edition of the Canadian Nuclear Factbook is available now!

Published regularly since 2004, the Factbook has become a highly regarded reference on nuclear technology in Canada and around the world. Its distribution spans several countries, and we were thrilled that the 2015 edition reached over 25,000 individuals physically and thousands more online.

With the 2017 Factbook, we are building on our success with a sleek new look, colour-coded sections and rugged half-Canadian binding. The new edition also features additional information on nuclear refurbishment, uranium mining, radioactive waste and transportation.

Interested in ordering free copies? Simply email us at info@cna.ca! (Shipping charges may apply on international orders.)

You can also download a PDF version on the CNA website.


Rewarding Bright Leadership

Elyse Allan, second from the right, at the GE Peterborough manufacturing plant.

She is one of the most powerful women in Canada and as President and CEO of GE Canada; Elyse Allan is helping to chart Canada’s energy future. In an industry primarily dominated by men, as documented by Statistics Canada, her ascent to the top is nothing short of remarkable.

A dual background in environment and business, Allan is one of the most influential leaders in the energy world. She has been a leading voice in advancing technology development initiatives with Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), and further leads efforts in driving innovation and competitiveness as a board member for MaRS and the Conference Board of Canada amongst others. For this leader of GE Canada, her passion for energy and innovation goes back to childhood.

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve had this natural curiosity for the sciences,” she says. “Discovering how science and technology come together to solve global challenges, particularly in the energy space fascinates me.”

This fascination for problem solving has led her to be chosen as the 2016 Canadian Energy Person of the Year by the Energy Council of Canada. Formed almost 100 years ago, in 1923, the Energy Council of Canada is a founding member of the World Energy Council (WEC); a UN-accredited global energy body which covers all energy sectors in Canada. Since 2011 the organization has recognized Canadian leaders who make international contributions to the field of energy.

Allan’s contributions include a partnership between GE and Actua, providing more than 200,000 kids from across Canada with opportunities to gain hands-on experience through science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs.  She has played an active role in engaging government and policy makers to bring energy possibilities to more remote communities in Canada. Mrs. Allan was also part of a 10-member panel to advise Alberta Premier Rachel Notley on economic diversification.

Looking ahead, Mrs. Allan’s professional aspirations include stretching the boundaries of technology to meet the ever changing needs of Canada’s energy industry through advances in digital capabilities.

“In our businesses, we need to embrace new technologies, and expose our workforce to leading trends,” states Allan. “As leaders, whether executives or on boards, we need to be sure that we are creating the right conditions for new technologies.”

Under the leadership of Allan the GE Innovation Center in Calgary  is working on data based solutions to change the way energy companies operate in the field. The future of innovation at GE includes using advances in material sciences, 3-D printing, improved software, data analytics and sensors, providing necessary tools to deliver a brighter, more sustainable and prosperous energy future.


Nuclear Technology Brings Hope to Patients

MEDICALISOTOPESSaskatchewan cancer patients have been given a new reason to be hopeful thanks to nuclear technology.

The Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon is now receiving on-site medical isotopes thanks to the Fedoruk Centre, a cyclotron and a funding partnership between the province and the feds.

A cyclotron is a particle accelerator and it uses power to make particles radioactive. When these particles collide isotopes are created.

Medical isotopes are safe radioactive particles used to diagnose health conditions.

In total, the nuclear medicine community relies on a wide suite of medical isotopes. There are approximately 200 isotopes available for use. Each isotope has its own characteristics and the ability to provide doctors with a window into what is happening inside the body.

The isotope used to help detect medical issues such as cancer and Parkinson’s through a positron emission tomography (PET)/computerized tomography (CT) scan (PET-CT).

An isotope known as fluorine-18 is attached to a tracer to make a radiopharmaceutical. It is then injected into the patient where it moves throughout the body depending on the tracer.  In Canada, PET/CT scans use the radiopharmaceutical flurodeoxyglucose (FDG).  Approximately 60 minutes after injection, the scanning part of the procedure begins.

“FDG is a sugar and the sugar is burned up by different parts of the body at different rates,” according to Dr. Neil Alexander, executive director of the Fedoruk Centre. “In nuclear medicine, particularly in diagnostics, if you have a sugar it goes around the body and anything burning up the sugar at a great rate lights up on the scan.  As one example, cancer cells burn up sugar at a greater rate than healthy cells, allowing physicians to detect cancers and see how the disease responds to treatment.”

PET/CT scans provide doctors with vital information on the location and extent of cancer within the body. The test also allows doctors to assess the success of treatments; providing patients with a better chance at survival.

Parkinson’s disease diagnosis and research is one of the newest areas for medical isotopes and PET/CT. Early diagnosis in the case of Parkinson’s is an important step to increasing knowledge on how the disease progresses and responds to therapy.  In the case of Parkinson’s patients the scan is looking for a decrease in proteins used in the synapses, or the junctions between nerve cells, in the brain.

Until the cyclotron started producing isotopes, patients requiring a scan in Saskatchewan needed isotopes flown in from Ontario and because the radioactivity is short-lived, meaning FDG cannot be stored, daily shipments were required. The challenges of early morning production added to air transportation often led to delayed starts and cancellations, providing unreliability for patients in need of medical diagnoses.

“Up until now, all of it was coming in from Hamilton and a lot of the material had decayed so they couldn’t process as many patients,” says Alexander.

Producing locally means more reliable health care for patients, cutting wait times and diagnosing more patients sooner. It also means that Saskatchewan medical researchers have a supply readily available to expand their research programs.


Powering Pluto

Image Credit: NASA, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Southwest Research Institute
Image Credit: NASA, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Southwest Research Institute

Nuclear technology is helping to make history on the solar system’s icy planet.

A “Pluto Not Yet Explored” stamp has pasted itself into history books after travelling more than 3.2 billion miles, over 5 billion kilometers, to Pluto and beyond.

The mission has landed NASA a spot in the Guinness World Record Books.

The accomplishment is no small feat. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft was first launched just over 10 years ago, in early 2006, to study Pluto and the Kuiper Belt close-up. Cold, dark and almost 4 billion miles away from the sun meant that solar power, batteries and fuel cells weren’t viable options to power the mission.

In order to reach the outer icy reaches of our solar system, NASA needed help from an energy source that could survive the most extreme conditions.

So for Pluto, NASA went nuclear.

“We needed a reliable source of power and we’ve put a great deal of money and research into them (the power supplies) so that was really the way to do the mission and  have the highest reliability to run the space craft,” states Dr. Ralph McNutt, principal investigator for the New Horizons Pluto Energetic Particle Spectrometer Science Investigation (PEPSSI), from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.

It’s called a radioisotope thermoelectric generator or RTG for short. Think of it as a “nuclear battery” to power spacecraft. RTGs are powered by an isotope known as plutonium-238, an artificial element which has a half-life of almost a century. As this isotope decays it produces heat which is converted into electricity. The electricity required to power the Pluto mission is about 200 watts, the same as using two one-hundred watt light bulbs.

In deep outer space exploration mere seconds can make all the difference.

“Pluto takes approximately 250 years to get around the sun so you have to really know where Pluto is,” according to McNutt.  “We were off by 85 seconds at closest approach [in July 2015], which was really good, but you have to realize we were travelling at 14 kilometers per second. Times that by about 100 seconds and that’s almost 1,400 kilometers, a little bit more than the radius of Pluto.”

In order not to miss out on the opportunity to capture a picture of the dwarf planet, the team of scientists instructed the camera to take pictures of a larger amount of outer space, so that they wouldn’t miss Pluto or its moons as the spacecraft flew by.

Since the miniature planets discovery almost 100 years ago, in 1930, little was known about Pluto. In 2015, images of the planet sent back by New Horizons raised new questions about our solar system. The images sent back reveal glacier-like activity, among many other features, providing new information on the history of our solar system.

The Guinness World Record – awarded for longest distance traveled  for a  postage stamp that engineers affixed to the spacecraft shortly before launch – came around the same time that NASA celebrated 40 years of robots on Mars. Soon, NASA will launch Mars2020 as a first step to hopefully bring back to earth a sample of soil from the Red Plant; a potential space accomplishment made possible thanks to nuclear power.


Join Kirsty Gogan at CNA2017

gogan2Kirsty Gogan is co-founder of Energy for Humanity, a global NGO with an ambitious agenda to broaden the climate and energy debate to include all low-carbon technologies.

Gogan is an established expert in climate and energy communications with extensive experience as a senior advisor to UK government, industry, academic networks and non-profit organizations.

Among her many accomplishments, Gogan created the Low Carbon Alliance between the nuclear and renewables industries, representing more than 1,000 businesses and welcomed by Greenpeace.

As Deputy Head of Civil Nuclear Security, Gogan reviewed the UK national communications response to Fukushima, made a number of recommendations, and implemented them.

Gogan also created the first UK chapter of Women in Nuclear (WiN).

Gogan’s Energy for Humanity co-founders include Academy Award Nominee Robert Stone, whose 2014 documentary Pandora’s Promise makes the case for nuclear energy, and Daniel Aegerter, a Swiss entrepreneur and new voice for the pro-nuclear environmental movement.


CNA Reaches 5,000 Twitter Followers!

twitter_5000_followerThe CNA is happy to report that on December 20 we reached our target of 5,000 Twitter followers before the end of the year.

Having just reached 5,000, we would like to thank our followers and all those who retweet our tweets, spreading the good word about nuclear energy.

Part of the reason for a recent rise in new followers is our commitment to tweet what the people want.

By using social media tools, we have identified the themes that are popular with our followers and the best time of day to reach them.

At the moment, stories about nuclear power’s contribution to reducing GHGs, innovations in nuclear and anything that compares nuclear’s benefits with other technologies are very popular with our followers and are shared the most.

The CNA will continue to use Twitter to leverage more of its original infographics, brand journalism content and blogs on these themes and others.