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article imageCanada’s small nuclear reactors ready for demo

By Tim Sandle     Aug 21, 2018 in Environment
Nuclear reactors are getting smaller, as well as more efficient, and a new type of reactor is shortly to be demonstrated in Canada. This is a type of ‘small modular reactor’, and potential sites have been selected.
Development of these types of reactors has taken several decades of research. A small modular reactor now resembles little more than a shrunken form of a conventional large-scale reactor. The big difference is that the small reactor can generate power with great efficiency.
In addition, these new types of nuclear reactors have better safety measures and by taking advantage of construction developments, such reactors only need minimum build-time. Furthermore, once up and running only the presence of a small operating crew is required.
The suitability of nuclear power is contested between different policy groups. The use of nuclear power is supported by some governments and environmentalists as a viable source of power and one that fits in with a low-carbon electricity paradigm and as a potential mechanism to combat further climate change. However, nuclear power also has its detractors, including those concerned about safety and with the environmental impact surrounding waste disposal. Skeptics can point to two frightening nuclear accidents, the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 and subsequently the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
With the new Canadian development, the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, which is a government contractor working for the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, launched a public consultation into small modular reactor technology (nuclear fission reactors).
Canadian Nuclear Laboratories has announced that following consultations they are set to approve four demo small modular reactor units. Discussing this with Laboratory Roots, Dr. Bronwyn Hyland noted that Canadian Nuclear Laboratories has undertaken generic siting studies at Chalk River Laboratories and Whiteshell Laboratories.
Whiteshell Laboratories hosts a prototype called WR-1, which is a low output reactor that uses an organic, oily substance as the coolant instead of heavy water. In addition, several versions of hydrogen fuel technology power devices are being developed.
From these laboratory studies, several possible locations suitable for construction of demo small modular reactor units have been identified. This leads to the unveiling of these types of reactors in the near future. The specific locations have yet to be made public.
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