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Innovations we Need – Now, and for Generations

By John Stewart
Director, Policy and Research
Canadian Nuclear Association

In case you missed this in the early January darkness: A Canadian team based at Vancouver-area TRIUMF has demonstrated a practical answer to the impending shortage of medical isotopes.

Technetium-99m (TC-99m), a commonly used isotope for medical imaging and diagnosis, has until now mainly been derived from molybdenum-99 from the NRU research reactor in Ontario. But the NRU is scheduled to end molybdenum production in 2016.

Industry experts were warning that this would leave global supplies of TC-99m very tight and vulnerable to shortages. But Canada’s nuclear science and technology know-how, with support from the federal government, has been working on answers. The team uses a common brand of medical cyclotron – developed and manufactured in Canada – to make TC-99m without a reactor.

Yanick Lee (right) and Ran Klein (centre) show off the Ottawa Hospital’s cyclotron.
The cyclotron at the Ottawa Hospital produces isotopes used for PET scans, which allow cardiac and cancer patients to receive precisely targeted treatments.

Nuclear technology doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s an integral part of our health care system, helping Canadian doctors to help their patients faster, better, and less intrusively. Not to mention an integral part of our materials science, which supports our whole manufacturing and engineering capability. Not to mention an integral part of our low-carbon, low-cost electric power supply.

Nuclear technology solves real-world problems that affect our quality of life: How long we live. How well our cars run. How safely our planes land. How affordable energy is.

As we noted in our last post, timely solutions like the isotope breakthrough may only be the tip of the iceberg compared to what nuclear innovation could bring humanity in coming decades. The world’s demand for low-carbon energy and clean air is probably the biggest single challenge we face as a species.  And it is increasingly clear that nuclear is the only minimal-carbon energy that can be there on the scale we need, when we need it.

Many reactor designs can be part of that solution, which will be global in scale. Here are some examples of CNA member organizations working in science and technology partnerships right now to make it happen:

  • Burnaby, BC-based General Fusion, which has a prototype fusion reactor, has a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory, and is putting them in place with the Lawrence Berkeley National and Princeton Plasma Physics labs.
Terrestrial
Terrestrial Energy’s IMSR80.
  • Mississauga, ON-based Terrestrial Energy, which is developing integral molten salt reactors, recently announced an initial collaboration with USDOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the home of the original working MSR design.
  • CNA members GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GHNE) and Westinghouse Electric, plus Areva Federal Services, have joined with USDOE’s Argonne National Laboratory in a partnership on next-generation reactors.

National laboratories don’t form these partnerships just to make headlines. They’re looking to solve big problems. Canada and CNA members are going to be part of those answers.

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NRC Approves New Nuclear Build at Vogtle Site in Georgia

Big news for our nuclear neighbors south of the border.  It was announced today by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the United States that Southern Nuclear Operating Company’s (SNC) application for two Combined Licenses (COL) at the Vogtle site in Georgia was approved!

Read all about it: NRC News Release (PDF)

Congratulations to all the stakeholders:  the companies that build and design nuclear technology, the regulators who work with them to ensure its safety, and above all the families and businesses in Georgia who want reliable, affordable electric power.

These stakeholders, and others like them around the world, are building on decades of learning and continuous improvement, which is a strong part of our industry’s culture.

This is just one more step toward renewed growth for our industry.  Nuclear technology has a great role to play in a balanced and sustainable energy future for North America.

SNC will build and operate two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at the Vogtle site.

Ask Westinghouse SVP and Chief Technical Officer, Dr. Kate Jackson, all about it at the 2012 Canadian Nuclear Association Conference and Trade Show – Feb 22-23, in Ottawa. Registration closes Feb 17. #cnagm2012

CNA2012 Update – Westinghouse CTO Kate Jackson Joins Agenda

We are pleased to announce Westinghouse‘s Kate Jackson has been added to the excellent roster of presenters at the 2012 Canadian Nuclear Association Conference and Trade Show.

Dr. Kate Jackson is sr. vice president and chief technology officer at Westinghouse. Since returning to Westinghouse, where she began her career as an engineer in the former Nuclear Technology Division, Kate has made significant contributions to the formulation of Westinghouse’s new technology development process. Dr. Jackson rejoined Westinghouse in 2008 as vice president, strategy for Research & Technology, following 17 years at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), where she held a number of executive roles involving leadership of key technology, research and environmental initiatives. Immediately prior to joining Westinghouse, she served as executive vice president in charge of River System Operations & Environment and chief environmental officer.

Dr. Jackson will speak on the topic of innovation, as well as participate in a panel discussion titled “Bright Ideas to Keep the Lights On.”

Of this latest addition to the agenda, WiN-Canada Executive Director, Cheryl Cottrill, says:

WiN is very pleased to see Kate Jackson, a senior level female executive, on your conference agenda. Kate is very supportive of WiN in the U.S. and she will be a great addition to your program.

Don’t forget to keep in touch with our weekly Conference updates and Sponsor Spotlights at TalkNuclear.ca

 To register or for more information, see the links below, or contact Alex Wolf at wolfa@cna.ca.

 See you in February!

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