CHALK RIVER, Ontario, July 27, 2022 — Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), Canada’s premier nuclear science and technology organization, is pleased to announce that it has entered into a collaboration agreement with ARC Clean Energy Canada (ARC Canada), a New Brunswick-based team working to develop and licence its sodium-cooled advanced small modular reactor (SMR) technology. Funded through CNL’s Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative (CNRI), the agreement includes work to advance the fuel development and manufacturing processes to produce fuel for ARC Canada’s advanced small modular reactor technology.
“Fuel development is a particular strength of the team here at the CNL,” commented Dr. Jeff Griffin, Vice-President of Science and Technology. ”We have supported the fuel development for Canadian heavy water reactor technology since its inception back in the 1950’s; we continue to support the fuel needs of low-power and research reactors across Canada and the globe; and, and in recent years, we have been investing and growing our capabilities in small modular and advanced reactor technologies and fuels. This exciting new CNRI project will benefit from this experience, helping ARC Canada move their product closer towards commercialization, while enriching our skill set for supporting this growing industry into the future.”
As Canada’s national nuclear laboratory, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) is uniquely qualified to efficiently manufacture and test nuclear fuel at its Chalk River Laboratories site. Our Fuel Development Laboratories fabricate reactor fuel concepts and prototypes and evaluate their performance under a variety of simulated reactor conditions. Both pellet- and pin-type fuel – similar to those used in the ARC Canada technology are fabricated, and CNL is able to further support the work through on-site analytical capabilities including non-destructive examination, metallographic and ceramographic examination, mechanical testing, thermal and physical property measurements, and analytical chemistry.
“This is a significant first step towards establishing capability in Canada to manufacture fuel assemblies for the ARC technology,” said Dr. Maggie Manley, Fuel Systems Engineer, leading the project for ARC Canada. “Our collaboration with CNL, with access to their world-class facilities and qualified technical experts, is critical to validate our fuel qualification program and deployment approach. ARC Canada is proud to have been selected to partner with our national laboratories as we work towards a clean energy future.”
The ARC Canada technology is an advanced small modular reactor, designed to produce 100 MW of electrical energy; enough to power a small city. The ARC Canada technology is based on a proven design, using sodium coolant and a metallic uranium-zirconium alloy fuel enabling operation at near-atmospheric pressure which produces high quality steam for electrical generation and industrial processes. Among the many objectives of the CNRI project, CNL will work in partnership with ARC Canada to establish the capability to fabricate the metallic uranium sodium bonded fuel pins using surrogate fuel material. While the focus for this initial CNRI agreement is on a pilot system, the work will result in a qualified set of procedures for the development of a full production line to support the Canadian fleet.
Launched in 2019, the CNRI program was established by CNL to accelerate the deployment of SMRs in Canada by enabling research and development, and connecting the SMR industry with the facilities and expertise within Canada’s national nuclear laboratories. Among the many benefits of the program, participants optimize resources, share technical knowledge, and gain access to CNL’s expertise to help advance the commercialization of SMR technologies.
The next call for CNRI proposals is expected to be released later this year. For more details on the program, please visit www.cnl.ca/CNRI.