Tag Archives: CANDU

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Moltex Energy pursuing SMR build in New Brunswick

The next generation of nuclear reactors is on its way in Canada.

Small modular reactors (SMRs) are a type of reactor that are smaller than conventional nuclear reactors. They can be built in factories and delivered to power sites and remote locations for installation at a low cost.

In Ontario, both Ontario Power Generation and Bruce Power are working with companies to develop SMRs.

And in New Brunswick, two companies signed agreements with NB Power and the Government of New Brunswick as part of an effort to build a manufacturing hub and potentially a second or even third reactor at Point Lepreau.

One of these companies is Moltex Energy.

At the recent Canadian Nuclear Society conference in Ottawa, Moltex Energy Canada Chief Executive Rory O’Sullivan spoke about the company’s efforts to have a stable salt reactor available before 2030.

“We signed the agreements with NB Power and the New Brunswick government last year,” he said.

There are now 10 full-time engineers at the Moltex office in New Brunswick, with five more expected to start in the fall.

“The main objective from the New Brunswick side is understanding our technology so they can eventually build a demonstration plant,” he said. “The long-term vision is to have New Brunswick as a cluster, to build a plant there and get the local supply chain engaged in the best position to sell components as we sell reactors around the world.”

Moltex’s reactor is an SSR, short for Stable Salt Reactor. It uses molten salt fuel in conventional fuel pins. The technology can reuse spent fuel from CANDU reactors at Point Lepreau. It can store heat as thermal energy in large tanks of molten salt that can be converted to steam to create electricity and be able to operate on demand.

In severe accidents the fuel can tolerate temperatures up to 1,600 degrees before it starts to boil.
“The concept of a meltdown doesn’t really apply,” O’Sullivan said.

Companies like Moltex are among those working in Canada to build the next generation of nuclear reactors that offer more flexibility to work with renewables in clean-energy systems of the future.

“All grids around the world need more flexibility as renewables grow and as grids change and you get more electric vehicle charging spikes,” he said. “We are not just developing a reactor that runs baseload all the time. We are developing a hybrid nuclear storage solution.”

“Nuclear is going to be part of a decarbonized future grid. Our way of getting there is trying to build a nuclear solution that operates as cheaply as possible.”

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John Gorman visits SNC-Lavalin mock-up facility

On Wednesday, July 3 CNA’s new President and CEO John Gorman had the privilege of visiting the SNC-Lavalin control room simulator and manufacturing shop in Mississauga, Ontario.

Below are some photos they took during his visit.

John in the CANDU 6 Main Control Room Simulator speaking with Navid Badie (Senior Vice-President, Engineering & Chief Nuclear Engineer), right, and Michael Courtney (Advisor, Marketing, Strategy & External Relations)
John in the CANDU 6 Main Control Room Simulator looking at the Main Heat Transport Panels
Jeffrey de Beyer explaining to John how the single-rail slide table of the Calandria mock-up functions for training and tool qualification
Elisabeth Leon (Manager, SP3 Project Delivery) and John in front of a pressure-test system for Fuel Channel Closures
John holding a part made for the iron chamber with Peter Schicht (Manager, Manufacturing)
Peter Schicht showing John the waterjet which uses water to cut various materials
John looking into the Radiation Lab (largest in Canada) with Greg Squires (Senior Project Management Specialist)
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Your lifetime used fuel would fit in a soda can! Want proof?

Does this infographic look familiar? It should. For the past five years, the CNA has been using it to show how little uranium used fuel a person would generate over their lifetime if they relied exclusively on nuclear energy.

It’s always a big hit on social media because it’s a simple yet powerful concept.

But did you ever wonder how the CNA came to this conclusion? It wasn’t a guess. It was a calculation that involved several variables, including reactor capacity, refueling speed, electricity consumption, fuel volume, soda can volume and average life expectancy.

Here’s the full breakdown:

A CANDU 6 reactor typically has 380 fuel channels. Each channel has 12 fuel bundles which means at any given time, a reactor has approximately 4,560 fuel bundles.

This system produces ~2,000 MW of thermal power (heat), which is turned into ~700 MW of electricity .

Each week, approximately 60 new fuel bundles are put into the reactor. The fuel in the reactor is completely replaced roughly every 18 months.

This means that the power that a given fuel bundle will produce is:(Note 1 MWe = 1,000 kWe.)

A bundle produces ~153.5 kWe (depending on where it is in the reactor) for ~13,000 hours (18 months). Therefore, one bundle produces 1,989,360 kWh, which we’re just going to call 2 million kWh.

According to electricityrates.ca, Canadians use approximately 10,000 kWh of electricity per year, per household. This varies a lot by province, and even by household. This means:

1 fuel bundle = 200 years of electricity for a household

This is twice the number we normally hear. People don’t distinguish between household electricity use and electricity use per person. Approximately half of electricity use goes towards households in Canada while the other half goes towards industrial, commercial and government operations.

According to Statistics Canada, there are 14 million households and 37 million people in Canada, leading to an average of 2.6 people per household. This gives the length of time a fuel bundle produces electricity for a single person:

 1 fuel bundle = 520 years of electricity for a person in Canada

According to the World Bank, the average life expectancy in Canada is 82 years. This means that over the course of a person’s life they would need less than a fuel bundle, specifically, they’d need 82/520 of a fuel bundle, or 15.8%. This is approximately 1/6th of a fuel bundle per person.

The volume of a cylinder is:A fuel bundle is 50 cm long and 10 cm in diameter (source):

A typical soda can is 12 fluid oz and 355 ml. (Note 355 ml = 355 cm3.) Larger soda cans are 16 fluid ozor 473 cm3. This means that one fuel bundle would fit in roughly 12 normal sized soda cans.

One fuel rod:or 2,455 cm3 for all 37 (source).

The fuel bundle is 25 pellets per rod and 37 rods, making 925 pellets per bundle. Each pellet has a volume of:for a total pellet volume of 1,674 cm3.

A single person’s electricity use would be 265 cm3 of used nuclear fuel (15.8% of 1,674 cm3), which would fit in a normal 355 ml soda can. If we include the zircalloy cladding from the bundle, the total volume would be 388 cm3, which would fit in a 473 ml soda can.

Therefore the used nuclear fuel from one person’s entire lifetime of electricity in their home would fit inside a single soda can.

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CNA Response to HBO Miniseries Chernobyl

The worst nuclear accident occurred in 1986 at the Chernobyl nuclear power station, sixty miles north of Kiev, Ukraine, in what was then the Soviet Union.

Thirty-three years later, Chernobyl is now a critically-acclaimed HBO miniseries, which will run for five weeks during May and June.

Here’s a spoiler: Almost all the problems associated with the Chernobyl incident were particular to the Soviet-era reactor and the secretive government response.

The Chernobyl accident was a unique event at a type of rudimentary reactor complex that was becoming rare in the Soviet Union, and no longer exists at all.

Chernobyl reactor versus CANDU

It is almost impossible that an accident like the one at Chernobyl could happen in a commercial nuclear plant found in Canada or the U.S.

The RBMK reactor at Chernobyl was never built by any country outside the USSR because it is a flawed design.

It is also significantly different from Canadian CANDU reactors in several ways as the chart from Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd below shows.

Containment

Containment is an airtight building made of concrete and steel that prevents harmful radioactivity from escaping the reactor in the event of an accident.

The Chernobyl reactor had no containment. The key factor in the widespread dispersion of radioactivity was the energy released from the burning graphite moderator and the absence of a containment structure capable of withstanding that energy.

CANDU reactors, like most Western designs, have a containment structure designed for its maximum credible accident, while its moderator is low-temperature, low-pressure water instead of graphite.

Design flaws

Chernobyl also lacked other safety mechanisms that are considered standard design in the rest of the world.

The root cause of the Chernobyl accident was a design flaw in the shut-down system that no other reactor in the world has.

The CANDU and RBMK designs have some fundamental differences. CANDU reactors use a heavy water moderator, while RBMK use graphite. Graphite can be a very useful material in a safe reactor design. But in an unstable design like the reactor at Chernobyl, it was fuel for the fire that resulted from the explosion.

Safety culture

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) concluded that a “lack of safety culture” existed within nuclear power plants in the former Soviet Union, including Chernobyl.

Chernobyl was a testament to the former Soviet Union’s poor construction materials and techniques, and absence of safety culture.

In the years prior to the accident, managers ignored safety rules laid down by engineers so production quotas could be met. Workers and lower-level managers were afraid to raise objections when they saw something wrong.

Health impact

In 2006 the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) undertook a study to follow up on health effects.

Of the plant staff and emergency workers exposed to the huge core doses and toxic smoke at Chernobyl, 28 died from acute radiation sickness.

The UNSCEAR report also said Chernobyl was responsible for a “substantial fraction” of about 6,000 thyroid cancers among people who were children or adolescents at the time of the accident. By 2015, 15 cases had proved fatal.

“To date, there has been no persuasive evidence of any other health effect in the general population that can be attributed to radiation exposure,” the study concluded.

According to a 2005 World Health Organization (WHO) report, a maximum of 4,000 people might yet exhibit some ill effects as a result of radiation exposure attributed to the Chernobyl release (as opposed to other sources of radiation, such as natural background radiation or medical procedures).

For context, about 1,000 people die per year mining coal in China; about 2,000 people die per year in road accidents in Canada; and more than 3,000 people die per year from fire in the United States.

CNA2019

New nuclear from a strategic perspective panel at CNA2019

Top to bottom: Rita Baranwal, Bill Fox, Kenneth N. Luongo

On Thursday, February 28, at 11:15 a.m., Dr. Rita Baranwal, Bill Fox, and Kenneth N. Luongo take the stage at CNA2019 to discuss new nuclear from a strategic perspective.

Awareness is growing of the many power and non-power benefits of nuclear technology. Taken together, these cover a wide range of national interests. How should we be looking at New Nuclear from a strategic perspective? What does the evolving technology imply for state-to-state relations, national security, technology leadership, and commercial success?

Dr. Rita Baranwal is the  Director at the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN)  at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). Created by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2015, GAIN supports nuclear startups and helps universities, industries and other private groups get nuclear technology to the market more quickly. U.S. President Donald Trump has nominated Dr. Baranwal to serve as the Department of Energy’s assistant secretary for nuclear energy.

William (Bill) Fox is the Executive Vice-President, Nuclear at SNC-Lavalin. He oversees all operations carried out by the Canadian Nuclear business unit, including the design and delivery of CANDU reactors, life extension projects, plant life management programs and tools and operation and maintenance services  for existing CANDU nuclear power stations across Canada and in key international markets.

Kenneth N. Luongo is the founder and president of the Partnership for Global Security (PGS) and the creator of the Global Nexus Initiative. He served as the Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Energy for Nonproliferation Policy and simultaneously at the Department of Energy as the Director of the Office of Arms Control and Nonproliferation, Director of the Russia and Newly Independent States Nuclear Material Security Task Force and Director of the North Korea Task Force.

For more information about CNA2019 visit https://cna.ca/cna2019/.

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Bruce Power to produce Lutetium-177 for cancer therapy

In late June, Bruce Power joined forces with Isotopen Technologien München (ITM) to examine the production of the radioisotope Lutetium-177 at the Bruce Power site.

Lu-177 is used in targeted radionuclide therapy to treat cancers like neuroendocrine tumours and prostate cancer.

The medical-grade radioisotope is used to destroy cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unaffected.

According to the company, the Bruce Power site has the ability to meet global supply needs through 2064, which is the lifespan of the station after refurbishment.

Bruce Power nuclear generating station

“By developing innovative ways to generate these radioisotopes, we help ensure that the medical community has access to a reliable source of medical radioisotopes for Targeted Radionuclide Therapy,” Bruce Power CEO Mike Rencheck said via a press release.

Bruce’s CANDU reactors already produce Cobalt-60, which is used for the sterilization of medical equipment and in a specialized form of cancer treatment called the Gamma Knife.

Bruce Power is part of the Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council (CNIC), which aims to develop collective solutions to maintain Canada’s leadership position in global isotope production. The CNA is also a member of the Council.