Canada’s Laurentis Energy Partners (LEP), a subsidiary of Ontario Power Generation (OPG), have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to collaborate with Romanian nuclear utility, SN Nuclearelectricia (SNN), on the production of medical isotopes at the Cernavoda NPP and also to explore the possibility of heavy water production in Romania.

This followed an announcement by Canada’s Natural Resources & Energy Minister, Jonathan Wilkinson's of CAD3bn ($2.2bn) in export financing to support clean energy security at Cernavoda NPP including the construction of two new units (3&4) at the plant. Cernavoda, Romania's only NPP, has two commercially operational Candu 6 pressurised heavy water reactors supplied by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. Construction began in the early 1980s. The 700 MWe Cernavoda 1 was commissioned in 1996 and Cernavoda 2 in 2007. Construction of three more units began, but was stopped in 1990. Cernavoda 1&2 supply about one-fifth of Romania’s electricity. The Cernavoda 3&4 project aims to complete two further Candu 6 reactors. A draft law on the agreement to build units 3&4 was adopted by the government in December 2022 and approved by parliament. The new units are expected to be operating by 2032.

The MOU was signed by OPG President & CEO Ken Hartwick, and SNN CEO Cosmin Ghita in the presence of Romania’s Minister of Energy, Sebastian Burduja. Under the MOU, SNN and LEP will work together on opportunities in a number of areas, including isotope production at SNN’s Candu reactor units at Cernavoda.

Using Candu reactors, medical isotopes can be produced without interrupting power generation. Laurentis and OPG are leaders in nuclear isotopes production at Candu reactors at the Darlington and Pickering NPPs in Canada. SNN owns and operates two Candu reactor units at Cernavoda NPP, and plans to construct tow more units in the future. LEP opened its first office in Bucharest in 2020, where it operates through its subsidiary Canadian Nuclear Partners and has been active in refurbishing Cernavoda unit 1.

The partnership also includes opportunities for co-operation in producing and supplying heavy water, which Candu reactors use as a moderator and coolant. Heavy water can also be used in a growing number of non-nuclear applications including pharmaceuticals, medical diagnostics, and next-generation electronics.

“Laurentis is committed to leveraging our proven refurbishment and isotope production expertise to advance healthcare solutions and expand market opportunities in Romania,” said LEP President & CEO Jason Van Wart. “The nuclear industry is currently essential to generating clean energy and producing medical isotopes given the recent evolutions of the medical isotope market, and we are looking forward to this partnership with Laurentis as a way to advance much-needed global solutions for the health sector,” said SNN’s Cosmin Ghita.

Sebastian Burduja, Romanian Minister of Energy said this is a significant step toward helping to improve the health of millions of people around the world and demonstrates the multiple benefits of NPPs, which are a source of clean energy and can also contribute to cancer treatment. “Equally important is the project to restart heavy water production in Romania, an initiative that started in the mandate of the former minister, Virgil Popescu. The demand for heavy water is growing and Romania can be a strategic player,” he noted.

Image courtesy of Nuclearelectricia