Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) has launched a new research and development programme to accelerate the deployment of small modular reactors in Canada. The Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative will provide reactor vendors access to world-class research facilities, it said.

The Chalk River Laboratories campus, pictured in 2015 (Image: CNL)

The CNRI - a programme to support collaborative SMR research projects with third-party proponents in Canada - was launched last week during the US Nuclear Industry Council's New Nuclear Capital industry meeting in Washington, DC.

CNL said it will issue an annual call for proposals inviting organisations to submit projects that fall within a list of designated focus areas, including market analysis, fuel development, reactor physics modelling and transportation. CNL will enter into joint R&D projects based on the results of a review of these proposals. For proposals that pass the technical review, CNL will draft an initial project plan that aligns with the funds available. It will share this initial proposal with the applicant prior to final selections. If CNL determines that the scope defined by the applicant cannot be met within the available funds, CNL may work with the applicant to revise the scope of work and/or budget.

"CNL has made tremendous progress over the past few years as an advocate for SMR technology and is helping to facilitate its development here in Canada. We believe that CNRI will help continue this momentum," said CNL President and CEO Mark Lesinski. "Our laboratories and scientific capabilities are truly unique in this country. This new programme will provide qualified applicants with the opportunity to leverage these resources to drive innovation in the development of this much-needed low-carbon energy technology."

Kathryn McCarthy, CNL vice-president for science and technology, added, "Through CNRI we are supporting mission critical R&D that will accelerate the deployment of SMRs while strengthening connections with industry, growing our team and attracting commercial opportunities."

"Since CNL launched our SMR programme a few years ago, we have received tremendous interest from companies and organisations all over the world who recognise the role that this clean energy technology can play in powering economies cleanly, particularly communities and businesses in remote locations," said Corey McDaniel, CNL chief commercial officer. "Bringing this technology from design through to readiness for deployment is a major undertaking, and requires a substantial investment into research, testing and development. CNRI will help nuclear innovators and entrepreneurs share these costs, so we can collectively benefit from this new, emerging market."

In April 2018, CNL invited SMR project proponents to evaluate the construction and operation of a demonstration SMR project at a site it manages. CNL said the invitation represented the launch of its SMR review process, including the pre-qualification stage, which allows CNL to evaluate the "technical and business merits of proposed designs, assess the financial viability of the projects, and review the necessary national security and integrity requirements". The invitation will remain open, CNL said, with rounds of intake periods expected to occur semi-annually.

The invitation followed CNL's request for expressions of interest in SMRs, launched in June 2017, which resulted in responses from 80 organisations around the world, including 19 expressions of interest in siting a prototype or demonstration reactor at a CNL-managed site. CNL aims to have a new SMR constructed on its Chalk River site by 2026.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Monday, 22 July 2019
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