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April 13, 2021

CNL successfully fabricates advanced Small Modular Reactor fuel

Funded through the Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative (CNRI), research project culminates in the production of USNC’s proprietary new SMR fuel 

Chalk River, ON – April 13, 2021 – Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), Canada’s premier nuclear science and technology organization, is pleased to announce that it has successfully fabricated Fully Ceramic Microencapsulated (FCMTM) fuel pellets, an advanced and proprietary reactor fuel designed by Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC) for their Micro Modular Reactor (MMRTM). Funded through the Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative (CNRI), the project represents the first time that a Tristructural-Isotropic (TRISO) based fuel has been manufactured in Canada.

“The successful fabrication of this innovative fuel design represents a major milestone for SMR research here in Canada, and demonstrates that CNL has the necessary expertise and capabilities to help move these advanced fuels from concept to reality,” commented Joe McBrearty, CNL’s President and CEO.  “I’m thrilled that we were able to collaborate with USNC on this work through the CNRI program, a program designed to help SMR vendors gain access to our expertise in order to help advance the development and commercialization of their unique technologies.”

“Collaborating with CNL in achieving this milestone is a significant step towards enabling Canadian production of FCM fuel for use in our Micro Modular Reactors,” said Mark Mitchell, President of USNC-Power. “This achievement demonstrates the readiness of the FCM technology for deployment and furthers Canada’s position as a leading innovator in the nuclear industry.”

USNC’s innovative FCMTM pellet design consists of spherical TRISO particles dispersed in a matrix of silicon carbide. The TRISO particles have a layered structure with a dense fuel kernel, which are then coated with layers of graphite and silicon carbide making the particles incredibly robust and able to withstand intense heat and pressure. For these reasons, TRISO fuels are proposed for a number of new small and advanced reactor designs currently under consideration here in Canada.

“As the first project launched through the CNRI program, it’s exciting to see this advanced fuel design come to life, and to help USNC fully explore the viability of this promising fuel technology,” commented Jeff Griffin, CNL’s Vice-President of Science and Technology. “CNL continues to invest in our advanced fuel fabrication facilities and equipment, and to further expand the fuel services we offer, to help advance these technologies towards deployment here in Canada.”

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 laboratory. The FCMTM project is part of a broader portfolio of work between CNL and USNC that includes the establishment of a functional laboratory for fuel analysis at CNL’s Chalk River campus. The work also includes the development of a multi-year testing program to support the validation of USNC’s fuel and core as they progress through the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s Vendor Design Review process.

USNC, along with Ontario Power Generation, is a key partner in Global First Power, the organization proposing to construct and operate a small modular reactor at Atomic Energy of Canada Limited’s Chalk River Laboratories campus in Ontario.  The MMR™ project has begun licensing activities with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and an Environmental Assessment is currently underway.

For more information on CNL, including its SMR program, please visit

About CNL

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.

With ongoing investments in new facilities and a focused mandate, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories is well positioned for the future. A new performance standard reinforced with a strong safety culture underscores every activity.

For more information on the complete range of Canadian Nuclear Laboratories services, please visit or contact [email protected].


CNL Contact:

Patrick Quinn
Director, Corporate Communications
CNL, 1-866-886-2325

USNC Contact:

Caitie Wallman
Senior Director
Media Profile, 416-320-4178

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