OPG and Moltex launch project to recycle Candu fuel

1 April 2021

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) said on 30 March that its Centre for Canadian Nuclear Sustainability (CCNS) has joined forces with Moltex Energy in a project aimed at recycling used fuel from Candu reactors. CCNS will provide CAD1 million ($795,000) in funding to assist Moltex in demonstrating the technical viability of a new process to recycle used Candu fuel.

When removed from an operating reactor, used Candu fuel still contains energy. Moltex' process would extract the remaining energy source and prepare it for use as new fuel in other advanced reactor designs, potentially reducing the volume of the material requiring long-term storage in a Deep Geological Repository. The project would contribute to the development of Moltex’s WAste To Stable Salt (WATSS) technology, which could lead to a more sustainable form of nuclear power.

The project will involve CNNS (launched in 2020 to seek solutions for minimising nuclear materials and recycle clean materials); Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (which, through its Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative is supporting the design, construction and optimisation of the testing apparatus); the University of New Brunswick (research and testing); and NB Power (committed to building the first WATSS facility in Saint John, New Brunswick). The used fuel from NB Power's Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station would power a 300 MW Stable Salt Reactor – Wasteburner (SSR-W), also under development by Moltex. The project has also received significant federal funding support.

"Our goal is to advance solutions for nuclear materials, with a continued emphasis on minimising our environmental footprint," said Carla Carmichael, Vice President, Nuclear Decommissioning Strategy and Lead for OPG's Centre for Canadian Nuclear Sustainability. Rory O'Sullivan, CEO, North America, Moltex Energy, said: "We are working to develop a technology that uses the fuel from the first generation of nuclear power in Canada to power the next.This reduces the challenges associated with spent nuclear fuel, while expanding nuclear power to help Canada achieve its climate change objectives."

Dr Gina Strati, Head of CNL's Advanced Reactor Directorate noted that through the Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative, CNL had been working with Moltex on their development programme. "This is an excellent opportunity to optimise resources, share technical knowledge, and for the industry to gain access to CNL's expertise to help advance the commercialisation of SMR technologies, which will play a role in the necessary future clean energy mix," she said.

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