Funded through CNL’s Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative, new research project
will explore manufacturing process for USNC’s proprietary SMR fuel

Chalk River, ON – February 26, 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 USNC-Power, a subsidiary of Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation™ (USNC), developer of small modular reactor (SMR) technologies, to pursue research in support of USNC’s Micro Modular Reactor (MMR™). Funded through CNL’s Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative (CNRI), the scope of the project will include research related to the manufacturing of USNC’s proprietary Fully Ceramic Microencapsulated (FCMTM) fuel, designing an irradiation program for USNC’s graphite core, and the establishment of a functional laboratory for fuel analysis at CNL’s Chalk River campus. The project will also involve preliminary activities to explore the feasibility of siting a FCM manufacturing facility at the Chalk River campus, and will include 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.

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.

“CNL is working to make the next-generation of nuclear reactors a reality here in Canada, and this agreement with USNC-Power represents another step forward in pursuit of that goal,” commented Mark Lesinski, CNL President and CEO. “Based on our ongoing dialogue with SMR vendors, it’s clear that there is a need for increased access to our expertise and facilities to support SMR research and development. The CNRI program is intended to fill this void, and I’m pleased that we will be working alongside USNC on our first CNRI research project.”

“Our ongoing collaboration with CNL is essential to demonstrating the viability of our reactor design and the unique advantages of our FCM fuel,” stated Francesco Venneri, CEO, USNC. “We anticipate that the joint research we conduct with CNL beginning this year will be an important next step in validating our approach to SMR reactor and fuel design.”

CNRI is an annual program that invites organizations to submit proposals for cost-sharing R&D 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 USNC, the first CNRI project, will look at various aspects of the USNC SMR, most notably fuel development and examination. The agreement includes $1.5 million of in-kind contributions from CNL for the project and will be completed by the spring of 2021. Three other applications are currently at various stages of review and negotiations.

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.

“CNL is well-positioned to host a small modular reactor, and the early progress and interest in our SMR program from vendors has been very encouraging,” commented Dr. Gina Strati, Director of CNL’s Energy Program, “but we have much more to offer SMR vendors as they work to design, develop, build and eventually license their reactors. The CNRI program was launched so we could work with SMR vendors on their challenges.  We are all very excited that research is poised to begin on our first project.”

The next call for CNRI proposals is expected to be released in the spring of 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].

About USNC

USNC is a vertical integrator of nuclear power technologies, committed to bringing safe, commercially competitive, reliable nuclear energy to markets throughout the world. The company strictly adheres to inherent and intrinsic safety principles through technological innovation in fuels, materials, and design practices.

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

USNC Contact:
Ray Vincenzo
[email protected]