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September 16, 2020

CNL & Terrestrial Energy partner on SMR fuel research

Funded through CNL’s Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative, new research project to study fuel behaviour for Terrestrial Energy’s molten salt reactor design

Chalk River, ON – September 15, 2020 – 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 Terrestrial Energy to conduct research related to the clean energy company’s Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) technology. Funded through CNL’s Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative (CNRI), the agreement encompasses work to develop and test techniques to track the behaviour of the proposed liquid fuel that would be used in Terrestrial Energy’s IMSR design.

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 are able to optimize resources, share technical knowledge, and gain access to CNL’s expertise to help advance the commercialization of SMR technologies.

“The CNRI program was established to make our facilities and researchers easily accessible to SMR developers, such as Terrestrial Energy, so that we can help support deployment of these technologies,” said Joe McBrearty, CNL’s President and CEO. “This CNRI-supported project will help to enable Terrestrial Energy’s IMSR Safeguard program and methods, which are essential for regulatory approval. We look forward to working with Terrestrial Energy on this important project.”

“CNL has a long and reputed history delivering world-class services to the nuclear industry, and we intend to leverage this expertise as part of our supply chain strategy,” said Simon Irish, CEO of Terrestrial Energy. “We are pleased to be collaborating with CNL’s expert team on Safeguards for the operation of the IMSR, a Generation IV nuclear power plant.”

Terrestrial Energy is developing a molten salt reactor technology for use in electric power generation and a variety of other applications including hydrogen production. The IMSR fuel is dissolved in molten salt and moves around the reactor core as a liquid. Under international regulations, nuclear operators are required to account for their entire inventory of fissile material at any given time. As the IMSR uses a moving fuel, different accounting methods are required. Under this CNRI project, CNL will work to identify and experimentally verify a number of techniques to monitor IMSR fuel, including an innovative new use of neutron detectors recently developed by CNL researchers. This technique has the potential to serve as a new tool for the independent verification of nuclear reactor activities. CNL recently filed a patent to protect the technology, which was also featured in Nature Communications.

CNRI is an annual program that invites organizations to submit proposals for cost-sharing research and development projects in support of SMR development. CNL received a strong response to the initial intake, including four applications from key vendors in the SMR industry in Canada and abroad. The agreement with Terrestrial Energy represents the fourth CNRI project underway at CNL and is expected to be completed by June 2021.

“The tracking and monitoring of liquid fuel in a proposed SMR reactor design is a new area of R&D for CNL, and will expand our capabilities and expertise in advanced fuel research,” commented Dr. Jeffrey Griffin, CNL’s Vice-President of Science and Technology. “In this instance, we also have the opportunity to apply a new technology that we developed and patented here at CNL, which is very exciting. We continue to believe that SMRs represent the future of clean energy here in Canada, and the CNRI program is moving us closer towards this vision.”

CNL has identified SMRs as one of eight strategic initiatives the company is pursuing as part of its Long-Term Strategy, with the goal of siting an SMR before 2030. The company is working to demonstrate the commercial viability of SMRs and has positioned itself as a global leader in SMR 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 states of the invitation process.

The next call for CNRI proposals is expected to be released later in 2020. For more details on the 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

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