CHALK RIVER – Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), Canada’s premier nuclear science and technology organization, reported that it has issued a call for proposals for the third round of its Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative (CNRI) program. Launched in 2019, the CNRI program was established by CNL to accelerate the deployment of small modular reactor (SMRs) and advanced reactor (AR) designs, including next-generation on-grid reactors and fusion technologies. The deadline for this round of submissions is December 22, 2021, and projects will be selected in the spring of 2022.
CNRI allows participants to optimize resources, share technical knowledge and gain access to CNL’s expertise and unique facilities to advance the commercialization of SMR and AR technologies in Canada. Due to the ongoing success of CNRI, CNL is also planning to expand the initiative in 2022 by launching a CNRI ‘health stream,’ which would invite organizations to submit research proposals related to health sciences, radiobiology and medical isotope technologies including targeted alpha therapy.
“Here in Canada and around the world, it has become clear that nuclear energy must play a major role in the fight against climate change, in order to preserve the health and well-being of our environment,” commented Dr. Jeff Griffin, CNL’s Vice-President of Science & Technology. “To do so, we have to move swiftly to bring the next generation of nuclear reactors online, which is a comprehensive process that requires extensive research into the viability and safety of new SMR and AR designs. The CNRI program was designed to accelerate this process, and the consistent interest in the program has shown just how much it has been embraced by the international vendor community.”
For the third intake, research proposals must align with topics that include advanced fuels, advanced materials and chemistry, reactor safety, and component development and testing. As in previous rounds, once a technical review of each proposal is completed, CNL will work with the proponent to develop a plan to establish the scope, budget, and deliverables for the project. CNL will complete a final evaluation of the proposed project plans before making the final selection and approval of successful applicants.
Since the CNRI program was launched in 2019, CNL has received applications from many of the world’s leading SMR vendors, and has gone on to participate in collaborative research projects with companies that include General Fusion, Terrestrial Energy, Kairos Power, Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation, and Moltex. These projects have covered focus areas that include market analysis, fuel development and inventory management, reactors safeguards, and tritium management, among others. They have also enabled CNL to expand its capabilities into a number of promising new areas, including the development of tritium extraction technologies to advance fusion reactor designs, and the successful fabrication of advanced fuels for the first time in Canada.
“What has been so exciting about the early success of the CNRI program, is that it not only gives SMR vendors access to CNL’s unique resources in order to advance their reactor designs, but it also encourages us to expand our own capabilities,” commented Lou Riccoboni, CNL’s Vice-President of Business Development. “This means we are continually pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in research related to advanced reactors and fuels, which positions us to better serve the needs of our customers and the broader nuclear industry. It is also one of the many reasons why we are planning to expand the program into health sciences.”
In addition to the CNRI program, CNL is working to demonstrate the commercial viability of SMRs and ARs and to position itself as a global leader in prototype testing and technology development support. As part of the program, CNL issued an invitation in 2018 to SMR developers for the construction and operation of an SMR demonstration reactor at a CNL-managed site. At present, there are four proponents engaged in various stages of the process. CNL is also advancing the establishment of a Clean Energy Demonstration Innovation Research Park, which will provide opportunities for SMR and AR developers to demonstrate applications and integration methods for their technologies.
Canadian Nuclear Laboratories is a world leader in nuclear science and technology offering unique capabilities and solutions across a wide range of industries. Actively involved with industry-driven research and development in nuclear, transportation, clean technology, energy, defence, security and life sciences, we provide solutions to keep these sectors competitive internationally.
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