Small Modular Reactor Technology

Invitation for Siting of SMR Demonstration Projects - Deadline Extended to June 11

We have a vision for the development of small modular reactors (SMR). 

First, we will serve the world as a global hub for SMR research and technology. The second part of our vision for the program is to have a demonstration unit built on a CNL site by 2026. As a low-carbon source of energy, these reactors are well-aligned with global desire to reduce our carbon footprint; both smaller in size and in energy output, SMRs are considered ideal for deployment both on-grid and off-grid in remote locations such as mine sites or the oil sands, as well as willing communities in northern Canada reliant on diesel-fuelled generators for electricity.  In addition, these technologies can also be utilized in other industrial applications such as production of hydrogen, local area heating, or other industrial heat applications. 

Much more than simply electricity generation, SMRs can be part of an overall energy scheme that includes district heating, co-generation, energy storage, desalination, and hydrogen production among others. These traits are particularly attractive to remote off-grid applications in northern communities or industrial sites, such as mines, where consistent, reliable and low carbon, clean energy is needed. 

Canada has a proud track record in the design, construction, licence and operation of small reactors. In Whiteshell, we have had the WR-1, an organically cooled research reactor, as well as a SLOWPOKE reactor, another AECL design successfully deployed in universities and research institutions across the globe. In Chalk River, we can point to the ZEEP, NRX, NRU, PTR, and ZED-2 reactors as examples of success in first-of-a-kind deployment. Canada, enabled by the hard work and ingenuity of many people still resident in our surrounding communities, led the world. We will do it again.

Canada is uniquely positioned to benefit from small modular reactor deployment. With more than 250 remote communities in Canada`s north, and the growth in extractive industries CNL believes that the time is right for this technology. Given the high cost and challenging logistics for fuel transportation to some of these isolated locations, an SMR is not only though to be cost-competitive but also more reliable and with a far smaller environmental footprint.

Related Links:

World Nuclear Association
UN International Atomic Energy Agency
Canadian Nuclear Association: SMR
Ontario Ministry of Energy Study: SMR Feasibility Study

What is meant by Small Modular Reactor? 

Small: For our planning purposes, CNL considers SMRs to produce as little as several hundred kilowatts of electrical output to a maximum of 300 MW. For context, a conventional power reactor is roughly 800 MW electrical.

Modular: This refers to both the construction style (meaning produced in modules in a factory) and in how an operator may choose to sequence the reactors. In some cases, an operator may wish to install several sequentially, adding or removing as the need for power changes. Modular construction provides potential benefits in the transport, installation and decommissioning.

Reactor: Again, designs vary but these are all based on nuclear technology. That said, SMRs introduce new fuels, new materials and new designs with the goal of creating safer, more cost effective and more efficient reactors than in the past.

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