Canada invests in small nuclear reactors to meet climate goals

Posted Oct 16, 2020 by Karen Graham
Oakville, Ontario-based nuclear tech company Terrestrial Energy has received a $20 million commitment from the federal government to aid in the development of the company’s small modular reactor (SMR) technology.
An architectural rendering of Terrestrial Energy s Integral Molten Salt Reactor power plant.
An architectural rendering of Terrestrial Energy's Integral Molten Salt Reactor power plant.
Terrestrial Eneggy
According to BetaKit, Minister of Innovation Navdeep Bains and Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan announced the funding on Thursday.
In accepting the investment, the company has committed to creating and maintaining 186 jobs and creating 52 CO-OP positions nationally. In addition, Terrestrial Energy is spending at least another $91.5 million in research and development.
"By helping to bring these small reactors to market, we are supporting significant environmental and economic benefits, including generating energy with reduced emissions, highly skilled job creation and Canadian intellectual property development," said Bains in a media statement.
"SMRs are a game-changing technology with the potential to play a critical role in fighting climate change, and rebuilding our post COVID-19 economy," said O'Regan.
Canadian National Laboratories  Chalk River  Ontario.
Canadian National Laboratories, Chalk River, Ontario.
The capital is being provided through the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) and is meant to help Terrestrial Energy meet a key pre-licencing milestone through the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, according to the company.
The commission will determine the acceptability of the Oakville company’s Generation IV technology, which it is developing as part of a $68.9 million Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) project.
Small Nuclear Reactors
Canadian National Laboratories (CNL), located in Deep River, Renfrew County, Ontario, is dedicated to major research and development to support and advance nuclear technology. In August 2017, CNL sent out a request for expressions of interest in small modular reactors (SMRs). CNL got over 79 responses, and it appears that initial interest in SNR's is growing to fruition.
Terrestrial Eneggy
SMR's are much smaller than traditional nuclear reactors and take far less time, about four years, to build. They are more economical; providing a clean and cost-competitive alternative to burning fossil fuels.
Atomic Energy of Canada Limited says it sees three major uses for SMRs in Canada:
1. Helping utilities replace energy capacity lost to closures of coal fired power plants.
2. Providing power and heat to off-grid industrial projects such as mines and oilsands developments.
4. Replacing diesel fuel as a source of energy and heat in remote communities.
The IMSR® power plant design incorporates many aspects of Molten Salt Reactor operation that were r...
The IMSR® power plant design incorporates many aspects of Molten Salt Reactor operation that were researched, demonstrated and proven by test reactors at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Terrestrial Eneggy
Terrestrial Energy's IMSR uses a Generation IV reactor technology. Instead of water circulating through a highly pressurized cooling system and solid fuel, as was the basis of its Generation I, II and III conventional reactors, a molten salt is used as the coolant and fuel in the Generation IV.
Molten salts are thermally stable, making them superior coolants compared to water. This permits lower pressure and high temperature operation. Iy also makes the reactors "walk-away safe," according to the company.
"Operating at 47 percent thermal efficiency, an IMSR power plant generates 195 megawatts of electricity with a thermal-spectrum, graphite-moderated, molten-fluoride-salt reactor system. It uses today’s standard nuclear fuel – comprising standard-assay low-enriched uranium (less than 5 percent 235U) – critical for near-term commercial deployment," per the website,