Tag Archives: S&T

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National S&T Week Kicks Off With A Record Breaking Science Lesson

This year, to kick off National Science and Technology Week, Canada decided to do something special. By organizing a science experiment to be conducted simultaneously across over 135 locations nationwide, and involving well over 3,000 participants, we collectively submitted an attempt to the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest science experiment ever conducted! Final numbers of participants will be available in a few weeks to verify that the record was set.

National Science and Technology Week spans October 12 – 21, 2012, and the record-setting experiment took place at precisely 1:00pm EST on opening day. This special week raises awareness of the importance of science and technology in our daily lives, and celebrates Canada’s historic and ongoing role as a leader in technological innovation.

Here at the Canadian Nuclear Association, we are proud to celebrate this week. Canada is one of the world’s nuclear pioneers, and continues to find success with advancements of its historically innovative CANDU reactor technology. In addition to producing approximately 15% of national electricity supply, CANDU reactors are also used internationally in six other countries.

Canada is also a chief innovator in nuclear medicine technology, having given birth to the use of Cobalt-60 as a powerful isotope in radiation therapy, as well as producing between 20-30% of the world’s supply of medical isotopes used for treatment and diagnostic imaging in almost 60 countries.

The record-setting experiment was performed at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), one of Canada’s fastest-growing universities, by a group of 46 students all from the highly regarded Nuclear Engineering program. These students represent the bright, young generation upcoming in Canada’s vibrant nuclear industry, and their enthusiasm is what made this event possible. In fact, of all the venues involved in this nationwide experiment, almost all were educational facilities!

As we await the announcement on the success of the experiment, we continue to recognize the importance of investment in science and technology to drive our industries forward. Through continued investment in nuclear technology, Canada is empowered to stay on the cutting edge of nuclear innovation, and produce advances towards benefiting the health, safety, and livelihood of Canadians and people around the world.

About the Science Lesson

Across Canada, participants conducted experiments that explored the Bernoulli principle which states that as a constant volume of fluid (or air) increases in speed, it experiences a corresponding decrease in pressure. This is the principle responsible for how airplane wings work, as the curvature of the wing creates a pressure difference between the air above and below it, resulting in motion in the direction of lower pressure and less resistance – up.

In the case of the experiments, the principle was demonstrated by blowing through a straw in a glass of water and between two balloons.

 UOIT’s Nuclear Engineering Training Ground

The UOIT Radiation Detection Laboratory is home to several specialized detectors for teaching students how to measure different types of radiation.

Graduate students travel from around the world to practice and be tested on UOIT’s brand new CANDU reactor simulator.

This general purpose laboratory features impressive and powerful equipment, such as the X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometer pictured on the left-side desk.

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Canada’s Nuclear Industry Welcomes Modernized Regulatory System and Innovation Investments

March 29, 2012, OTTAWA - The Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) today welcomed the Government of Canada’s Economic Action Plan 2012, “Jobs, Growth, and Long-Term Prosperity,” and key measures to create a modern regulatory system that will also contribute to improved environmental performance for Canada’s energy and mining projects.

“Regulatory modernization is a priority for our industry as it provides a competitive advantage for Canada,” said Denise Carpenter, President and CEO. “We are optimistic these proposed changes will increase efficiency and effectiveness of the regulatory process, and we look forward to working with the federal government to implement changes swiftly to enhance job creation and economic growth in Canada.”

The CNA serves approximately 100 member companies, representing 70,000 people employed in the production and advancement of nuclear medicine, uranium mining and exploration, fuel processing, and electricity generation.

“Our members support a regulatory process that establishes clear timelines, reduces duplication and burdens, and focuses resources on large projects where potential environmental impacts are the greatest,” added Carpenter, “We appreciate the focus on what matters to the environment.”

The CNA also applauded Innovation investments contained in Economic Action Plan 2012, such as the implementation of a Jenkins Panel recommendation to refocus the National Research Council (NRC) to improve its responsiveness to Canada’s business sector.

“Canada’s home-grown nuclear technologies connect the energy, medicine, manufacturing, advanced materials, and academic sectors with many other value-added industries, and the NRC is an important part of that innovation system,” said Carpenter. “Our industry believes there is great value to having strong public support for S&T that is responsive to the needs of industry.”

The Canadian nuclear industry provides a broad spectrum of products and services that benefit Canadians, generating approximately $6.6 billion per year and contributing $1.5 billion in tax revenue and $1.2 billion in export revenues.

Please visit www.cna.ca to follow CNA’s Blog, Twitter, and Facebook, and join in the “TalkNUclear” conversation.

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Background Information:

The CNA discussed this issue in the September 2011 “Innovation Issue” of Policy Options magazine:  http://www.irpp.org/po/archive/sep11/stewart.pdf

The CNA issued the following new release on March 14, 2012 to encourage the Government of Canada to fully consider the recommendations on the federal Environmental Assessment (EA) process made by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development: http://www.cna.ca/english/news_events/Mar14-2012-CNA-press-release.html

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Express your Interest in AECL

On February 9, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources launched a process inviting Expressions of Interest in the activities of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited’s (AECL’s) Nuclear Laboratories.  This process will allow the Government to benefit from the experiences of organizations, domestic or international, involved in the management or restructuring of nuclear science and technology or radioactive waste management.

The government indicated that information gathered through this process will help inform the AECL restructuring process.  The deadline for submissions is April 2.

This is obviously an important opportunity for our member organizations to present their views to the Government on this key issue.

This is your opportunity to have a say in the future of our nuclear science and technology industry. As a member of Canada’s nuclear community, you have valuable experience and knowledge to share towards informing the process that will determine the future of the labs. If you do nothing more than express your confidence in the future of Canada’s nuclear science and technology industry, you will have played an important part in this process.

You can write to the Honourable Minister Joe Oliver at:

Honourable Joe Oliver, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Natural Resources
162 Confederation Building
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6
Email: joe.oliver@parl.gc.ca

We at TalkNUclear are always interested in hearing your views on this and other issues of collective interest to our industry. Will you make a submission?

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Celebrating Catalysts of Innovation

The CNA is proud to support Pollution Probe by attending their annual dinner this evening!

Pollution Probe is a Canadian charitable environmental organization that:

  • Defines environmental problems through research;
  • Promotes understanding through education; and,
  • Presses for practical solutions through advocacy.

In fact, we have been working with Probe on various energy literacy initiatives over the past year that serve to help Canadians better understand Canada’s energy system. We like to remind our stakeholders that we understand the energy mix required for a large, diverse (and cold!) nation like ours. Because nuclear power plants operate all the time, they play an important role in Canada’s energy portfolio — and with electricity demand projected to increase by 34% by 2025 (due to population growth and new technology developments), meeting this demand will required increased capacity to produce reliable electricity.

Each year, Pollution Probe’s Annual Gala Dinner brings together 400 to 500 leaders and enablers from industry and government for an evening of networking and celebration. The theme of this year’s Gala is innovation, reflecting the premise that significant environmental change needs positive, tangible innovation. A new feature, the Innovator‘s Showroom, will be dedicated to showcasing leading-edge technology and thinking that advances environmental improvement and sustainable development. Proceeds from the Gala support Pollution Probe’s work to advance public policy that results in positive and tangible environmental change.

His Excellency, the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, will be at the Gala as the recipient of Pollution Probe’s inaugural Environmental and Sustainable Development Leader Award. This year’s award recognizes His Excellency as a driving force for environmental innovation in Canada. Perhaps we can find some time to talk to the GG about the key role nuclear plays in S&T and innovation over dinner? We’ll let you know!

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Energy: Power to CHOOSE – New Exhibit at the Canada Sci&Tech Museum

Opening On September 27th

At the Canada Science and Technology Museum

1867 St. Laurent Blvd, Ottawa

Be part of Let’s Talk Energy – Engaging Ideas for Canada’s Future, a national multi-year program exploring Canada’s energy production and consumption and the implications of greening the country’s energy network. Enhancing energy awareness and literacy among Canadians will help ensure a sustainable energy future for Canada.

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CNA Visits AECL’s Chalk River Laboratories

Last month, the CNA was invited to tour the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL)’s Chalk River Laboratories (CRL). If you thought Chalk River was all about the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor, you are mistaken. There is so much going on at Chalk River, it’s really quite incredible.

We began our tour by signing in with security at the CRL outer gate. “Safety first” in the nuclear industry extends to security, which at CRL is impressive to say the least. After checking in and receiving our visitor badges, we were off with our tour facilitators, Pat and Philip from AECL Site and Community Affairs.

First stop on the tour was the Waste Analysis Facility (WAF). Completed in 2008, the WAF is where waste that is believed to be clean (known as “Likely Clean”) is checked before being sent for recycling or disposal. It’s the final safety test before clean waste leaves the AECL site. If contamination is found (less than half of a percent of total material) the item is sent for decontamination or storage on-site. Materials verified as clean are taken off-site by trucks, which also pass through sensitive vehicle monitors to make sure no contamination leaves the site. EVER.  This is also a big advantage as it has allowed AECL to implement new programs to recycle more material, and, in many cases reduces the cost of storage. AECL does waste storage for materials generated on-site but it also serves to safely store and secure radioactive waste from hospital, schools and lab facilities from across the country.

Here we are in front of the Brockhouse Building at AECL's Chalk River Labs

Next we arrived at the Brockhouse Building for a presentation by Bill Kupferschmidt, the Vice-President of Research and Development, at AECL’s Nuclear Labs. But first, a safety brief: alarms will sound if there is an emergency, you go to the predetermined meeting spot, and there is an easy number to call to report an emergency, any questions? No? Then we’ll begin.

The presentation took us through the history of CRL. It’s the birthplace of Canada’s nuclear technology and has a 60-year nuclear legacy. Today CRL is the “knowledge base” of the Canadian industry. It’s a major producer of medical isotopes and a leader in nuclear environmental stewardship. The nuclear labs are applying science and technology for the benefit of Canadians and the world by way of specialized expertise, facilities and the unique ability to work with radioactive materials. It is truly impressive stuff! The Chalk River Laboratories are home to many facilities that can be found nowhere else in Canada.  These facilities, along with the people that work within them, play a big role in the scientific and industrial communities in Canada.

Our next stop on the tour was the Surface Sciences Lab. This is where expertise in a variety of disciplines – metallurgy, chemistry, physics, microscopy – all comes into play to solve any number of industrial materials challenges, and help make the industry safer and more efficient

AECL’s key areas of expertise include: material identification, characterization and qualification; mechanical failure analysis; corrosion analysis; non-destructive testing and analysis; sample preparation for metallographic and surface analysis; metallographic examination; characterization of radioactive specimens; and process qualifications including decontamination and cleaning.

Surface Sciences Lab

Complementary to the surface analysis capabilities are the remote-handling facilities for examining and testing irradiated materials and equipment. The Shielded Facilities include a reactor bay for receiving and initial processing of materials, shielded flasks for transferring highly radioactive materials, and hot cells!

The hot cells contain state-of-the-art equipment used to conduct post-irradiation examination (PIE) experiments and testing of radioactive materials. Mechanical arms behind shielded walls and windows allow the work to be done safely. The hot cells were this blogger’s favourite part of the tour.

Shielded Facilities

But then, we hadn’t yet arrived at the NRU. National Research Universal (NRU); a landmark achievement in Canadian science and technology. Completed in 1957, the NRU provides a unique facility for scientists across Canada through the National Research Council (NRC) and many others. Professor Bertram Brockhouse won a Nobel Prize in physics for his work at NRX (National Research Experimental, NRU’s predecessor) and NRU on neutron scattering. The technique he pioneered enables scientists today at the NRC Canadian Neutron Beam Centre at NRU to investigate materials with neutrons. In fact, each year over 200 professors, students and industrial researchers use this unique and powerful national resource. We are just “beaming” with pride!

NRU is also where the fundamental knowledge required to produce and evolve Canada’s CANDU fleet emerged AND where much of the world’s life-saving medical isotopes are produced.

National Research Universal (NRU)

Waste analysis, a history of CRL, surface sciences, hot cells, NRU — and all before lunch! In the second half of the tour we visit Zed-2, tritium and hydrogen research technologies, inspection technologies, and end with the Biological Research Facility. Read part two of CNA Visits AECL 2011 tomorrow on the TalkNuclear blog.