CNL to refuel Canada’s Slowpoke reactor

12 July 2019

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) announced it has been awarded an $8.5 million contract by the Government of Canada to refuel the Royal Military College of Canada’s Slowpoke-2 research reactor.  

Under the contract, CNL will remove the old reactor core, commission it with a new core that is being manufactured at CNL’s Chalk River Laboratories, and transfer the used core to a licensed nuclear waste management facility. The project is expected to take nearly three years and will extend the life of the 34 year old reactor by 30 years.

The Safe Low-Power Kritical Experiment (Slowpoke) reactor was developed by CNL in the late 1960s. It is a low-power, compact core reactor designed for neutron activation analysis, trace radioisotope production and as a teaching tool for nuclear science and engineering. It is the only reactor in the world considered safe enough to be licensed for unattended operation. Eight Slowpoke reactors have been supplied by CNL to universities and research centres across Canada and in Jamaica, three of which are still in operation.

“As the original inventors of the Slowpoke reactor design and the only organisation licensed to maintain the facility here in Canada, CNL is well-positioned to lead this complex refuelling project,” said Mark Lesinski, CNL President and CEO. “We have a skilled team in reactor physics and fuels to support the refuelling and commissioning phases, and all the necessary environmental remediation and radiation protection expertise to ensure the project is conducted safely.”

Slowpoke-2, which started operating in 1985, is used solely for professional development and academic research. It has been an essential tool for educating RMC students, military officers, faculty, and scholars from across Canada, and is helping to position the country as a global leader in nuclear science and technology. 

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