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CNL Awards of Excellence/Distinguished Merit Award: RMC SLOWPOKE Team

Distinguished Merit Award: RMC SLOWPOKE Team

Imtiaz Ahmed, Julian Atfield, Shane Audette, Jeff Battersby, Andrew Bergeron, Kendall Boniface, Marc Bouchard, Dan Cluff, James Crigger, Jeff DeJong, Lyle Gendron, Mike Godin, Paul Joynes, Mahmoud Karam, Nick Kotsios, Jeremy Kuehl, Norm Lair, Nathan Lee, Shawn Leeder, Ryan MacLeod, Dan McDonald, Gaige Moore, Dale Morris, Patrick Morrison, Jozef Mouris, Sinh Nguyen, Matthew Paluch, Dave Poff, Barbara Pruszkowski, Mark Seguin, Robyn Sloan, Justin Spencer, Madalena Spencer, Tracy Taylor, Cathy Thiriet, Luke Yaraskavitch, and Shuwei Yue 

For the execution of refuelling the SLOWPOKE Reactor at Royal Military College (RMC).

RMC’s SLOWPOKE reactor has supported the operational, educational and research needs of the Government of Canada, the Canadian Armed Forces, and the Department of National Defence since 1985. Among DND’s interests facilitated by the SLOWPOKE are projects that support the protection of the Canadian public, including nuclear forensics and emergency response. The reactor also supports a hands-on science and engineering curriculum for students at RMC.

On Friday, September 10, 2021, CNL in coordination with RMC completed re-commissioning of the RMC SLOWPOKE reactor, after a 22-day shutdown. This moment was the culmination of a three-year, ~$8.5 million commercial project which saw CNL remove the old reactor core; commission the reactor with a newly fabricated core manufactured by our Fuel Development team at CRL; and transfer the spent core to CRL for long-term storage in our licenced nuclear waste management facility.

Before the new fuel was placed into the reactor, the irradiated fuel was extracted. Doing so without disassembling major reactor structures required the design and manufacturing of a completely unique toolset, which was used to move the fuel while shielding staff, and avoiding damage to the reactor. For this, the team turned to the Mechanical Equipment Development (MED) department who were tasked with designing the core removal tooling, and facilitating the construction of most of the components at outside machine shops. Of course, this work was supported by various staff, including members of the SLOWPOKE Maintenance Team (comprised of individuals from MED, Nuclear Safety Experiments Branch, Advanced Fuels, and Reactor Physics), as well as Health Physics.

The refuelling project extended the life of the 37-year-old reactor by another 30 years, allowing it to continue serving students, researchers and government officials alike into the next generation.