AECL, AtkinsRéalis to collaborate on advanced Candu design

22 February 2024

A memorandum of understanding will see the two companies collaborate on the deployment of Candu reactors in Canada and internationally and expand their intellectual property licensing agreement, and is to be followed by further agreements to accelerate the development of the Candu Monark reactor technology.

AtkinsRéalis' vision of a Candu Monark plant (Image: AtkinsRéalis)

AtkinsRéalis unveiled its plans for the 1000 MW Candu Monark, a Generation III+ reactor with the highest output of any Candu technology, last November, saying the new design would build on the commercial success of currently operating Candu units and decades of design development to offer amongst other things a higher output, improved cost per megawatt-hour, a longer operating life of 70 years.

The intellectual property licensing agreement dates back to 2011, when federal Crown corporation Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL) sold its reactor division to SNC-Lavalin's Candu Energy subsidiary with the Canadian government retained the intellectual property rights for the Candu reactors. At that time, transitioning to a low-carbon world was not a consideration, the companies said today. The expanded agreement "will reflect the changing priorities and the organisations' belief in the role that Candu technology will play in decarbonising Canada and the world".

All of Canada's operating commercial nuclear reactors are Candu units. The pressurised heavy water reactor design was developed by AECL, in cooperation with Canadian industry, from the late 1950s onwards and the first commercial unit began operation in 1971. According to World Nuclear Association information, today there are some 27 Candu power reactors operating in seven countries.

AtkinsRéalis is the original equipment manufacturer of CANDU technology (SNC-Lavalin Group Inc rebranded to AtkinsRéalis in 2023) with a Canadian supply chain of more than 250 companies providing Candu fuel, components, services and tooling. Joe St Julian, AtkinsRéalis president, nuclear, said it will collaborate with AECL, the Canadian nuclear supply chain partners and its customers to complete the Candu Monark design for domestic and international deployment.

"Candu technology is the only home-grown Canadian power reactor technology; it competes on a global stage, providing energy security, creating export opportunities and thousands of well-paying, highly skilled jobs, while also supporting the local supply chain and creating economic value to Canada," St Julian said. "The deployment of the Candu Monark will provide safe, carbon free, base load power to the country and the world."

The government of Ontario last year announced the start of pre-development work to build up to 4800 MWe of new nuclear capacity at Bruce Power's existing site, in what would be Canada's first large-scale nuclear build in more than 30 years. This is in addition to plans for the deployment of small modular reactors in Ontario, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Alberta.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News