Nuclear reactors are not always used to generate electricity. Some reactors are used for a scientific research and creating radioisotopes for medical uses. These reactors are found in universities, private corporations, and government agencies.
Along with power reactors, nuclear materials in Canada are used for a number of peaceful purposes, including scientific research and creation of certain radioisotopes for medical uses.
Non-power nuclear reactors are used for both purposes. Such reactors, and other nuclear research and test facilities, are classified as Class I Nuclear Facilities. The licensees operating these facilities include universities, private corporations, and government agencies.
These non-power reactors and nuclear research facilities are licensed by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) as part of the Commission's mandate to regulate nuclear materials and activities for the protection of the health and safety of Canadians and the environment.
|McMaster University (Pool-type nuclear research reactor)||Hamilton, ON||Operating|
|École Polytechnique (SLOWPOKE-2)||Montréal, QC||Operating|
|École Polytechnique (Subcritical assembly)||Montréal, QC||Operating|
|Dalhousie University (SLOWPOKE-2)||Halifax, NS||Decommissioned|
|Saskatchewan Research Council (SLOWPOKE-2)||Saskatoon, SK||Operating|
|University of Alberta (SLOWPOKE-2)||Edmonton, AB||Operating|
|Royal Military College of Canada (SLOWPOKE-2)||Kingston, ON||Operating|
|AECL (NRU research)||Chalk River, ON||Operating|
|AECL (ZED-2)||Chalk River, ON||Operating|
|Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) (MAPLE 1 and MAPLE 2)||Chalk River, ON||Extended Shutdown State|
Chalk River Laboratories and the NRU
Activities and facilities at CRL encompass non-power reactors, isotope production, fuel fabrication and NRU research, tritium processing, waste management and waste treatment, decommissioning projects, new facilities projects, Class II Nuclear Facilities and numerous radioactive laboratories, in an environment of continuous change to upgrade of decommissioned, aging facilities or construct new facilities.
Decommissioning is currently taking place at Whiteshell Laboratories at Pinawa, Manitoba. AECL's Whiteshell Laboratories have been a major nuclear research facility for more than 35 years, leading the development of dry storage containment facilities for used nuclear fuel, a technology now used around the world. The site has also been home to research in food irradiation, hydrogen safety and performance, materials science for satellites and high performance aircraft, nuclear reactor design, reactor safety and waste management.
Photo: Saskatchewan Research Council’s SLOWPOKE-2 reactor core
The National Research Universal (NRU) reactor at CRL has been a major part of Canadian nuclear research. The NRU produces the majority of the world's medical isotopes used in the diagnosis and treatment of life-threatening diseases. It is also Canada's only major materials and fuel testing reactor used to support and advance the CANDU reactor design. The NRU produces neutrons used by the National Research Council's Neutron Beam Centre to investigate and study all types of industrial and biological materials. Read more about Chalk River Laboratories (CRL) and the NRU.
Also located at CRL, is the ZED-2 research reactor. Marking its 50th anniversary in 2010, the ZED-2 provided AECL with the capability to develop and test fuel bundle designs and fuel arrangements, and to stimulate various incident scenarios. Today, the reactor is still used to conduct testing for improvements to current CANDU reactors and the development of next-generation reactor concepts.
SLOWPOKE (stands for Safe Low-Power Critical Experiment) reactors are low-energy, pool type nuclear research reactors designed by AECL in the late 1960s. SLOWPOKE reactors are mainly used in research and also for teaching, training, irradiation studies, neutron radiography and the production of radioactive tracers. The core of a SLOWPOKE reactor sits in a pool of light-water, which provides cooling.
|Canadian Light Source||Saskatoon, SK||Synchrotron light research|
|TRIUMF||Vancouver, BC||Subatomic particle and radioisotope production research|
Canadian Light Source
Photo: Canadian Light Source’s particle accelerator facility
The Canadian Light Source (CLS) facility is a particle accelerator facility. Synchrotron light produced by the accelerator is used for experiments in diverse fields such as biology, materials research, atomic and molecular science, earth sciences, pharmaceuticals, biomedical research and electronics.
Synchrotron light ranges from infrared to ultraviolet and x-rays. The radiation, or light, has a very small divergence angle and is much brighter than most other light sources.
CLS currently holds an operating licence from CNSC for the synchrotron facility. CLS has recently informed the CNSC of their intention to request a licence for the construction of a facility that will be used to produce radioisotopes for medical purposes.
TRIUMF is Canada's national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics. In addition to fundamental research in physics and applied sciences, it is a major producer of radioisotopes. The TRIUMF site hosts the world’s largest cyclotron and six smaller particle accelerator facilities. It produces and uses a variety of radioisotopes which are subject to nuclear substance licensing by the CNSC, and hosts a proton therapy facility for certain types of cancer treatment. It is owned and operated as a joint venture by a consortium of Canadian universities, with contributions from the National Research Council and the Government of British Columbia.