NRU Deck Plate

National Research Universal

One of the largest and most versatile research reactors in the world

This reactor was a landmark achievement in Canadian science and technology when it went into service on November 3, 1957.  Almost six decades later, NRU continued to play a key role in advancing the quality of life of Canadians and people around the world before it went offline on March 31, 2018.

The NRU reactor was built for three purposes: to be a supplier of industrial and medical radioisotopes used for the diagnosis and treatment of life-threatening diseases; to be a major Canadian facility for neutron physics research, and to provide engineering research and development support for CANDU® power reactors.

NRU also housed the centre for neutron beam research in Canada and was one of the few research reactors in the world available for commercial use. Neutrons produced by the NRU were used to investigate and non-destructively study all types of industrial and biological materials. More than 200 professors, students and industrial researchers came to NRU every year to make use of this national resource. By using neutrons to probe materials, in-depth research was performed on metals, alloys, polymers, biomaterials, glass, ceramics, thin films, cement and minerals. This work lead to advances in medical, industrial and scientific fields that benefitted all Canadians. 

NRU had the honour of being the workplace of Canadian physicist Dr. Bertram Brockhouse, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1994. Using neutron scattering to explore materials, he invented a new, highly sophisticated neutron instrument known as a triple axis spectrometer. These are now standard instruments at every neutron laboratory throughout the world.

As one of the world’s most versatile research reactors, NRU also produced the fundamental knowledge required to develop, maintain and evolve Canada's fleet of CANDU power stations. While NRU didn't produce electricity, it is Canada’s only major materials and fuel testing reactor used to support and advance the CANDU design.

NRU contained testing equipment that allowed scientists and engineers to replicate a power reactor’s working conditions. This allowed them to apply that knowledge to building safer and more efficient CANDU technology for use in Canada and abroad.

Since March 31, 2018, NRU has been placed into guaranteed safe shutdown state followed by storage with surveillance.  The reactor will remain in that state until decommissioning, which is currently scheduled to begin in 2028.