Bruce Power, Cameco join nuclear innovation effort

21 August 2020

Bruce Power and Cameco yesterday announced the launch of a centre for next generation nuclear technologies as one of a series of initiatives to leverage their existing partnership to help rebuild the Canadian economy post-COVID, protect the environment and fight disease. They also announced that Cameco will supply an additional 1600 specialised fuel bundles for the 2024 restart of Bruce unit 6, which is currently undergoing refurbishment.

Bruce Power's James Scongack, Mike Renchek and Cameco's Tim Gitzel pictured during the online announcement event (Image: WNN)

The Nuclear Innovation Institute (NII) Centre for Next Generation Technologies will work to identify post-COVID economic, environmental and healthcare opportunities. Bruce and Cameco are founding members of the NII, an Ontario-based not-for-profit organisation set up in 2018 as a platform for accelerating innovation in the Canadian nuclear industry.

Innovations in nuclear energy will help support new technologies such as small modular reactors, cancer-fighting isotopes and hydrogen development by using infrastructure investments that will drive the economy now and power the world of the future, the companies said. It will also look into using new technologies to increase output at existing nuclear generation sites.

"Today's announcement, along with the existing long-term arrangements between Bruce Power and Cameco, opens the door to assist the provincial governments in both Saskatchewan and Ontario with getting the economy back on its feet after six difficult months working to protect and keep people safe in both provinces," said Bruce Power President and CEO Mike Rencheck.

"Our focus, through the Centre, on next generation nuclear technology is anchored on the basis of building from our existing assets including life extension and efficiencies, partnerships and [the] supply chain. This has the potential to fully leverage existing assets, reducing the need for more costly new generation in the future, creating a foundation for new medical isotopes and a hydrogen economy, all while laying the foundation for new nuclear such as SMRs."

Isotope expansion

The companies will also expand their role in medical isotope production. Cameco will use its facility in Cobourg, Ontario - location of it fuel manufacturing operations - to contribute to the development of a new isotope production system being developed by Bruce's partner Isogen to help produce lutetium-177.

In a separate announcement yesterday Isogen, a joint venture of Framatome and Kinectrics, said it is completing the final phase of engineering, testing and design for a mock-up of the system. Bruce Power aims to begin harvesting the isotope, which is used to treat prostate cancer and neuroendocrine tumours, in 2022.

Cameco is also a key supplier of materials in the production of cobalt-60, which is produced by Bruce in partnership with Ottawa-based Nordion and is used to sterilise medical equipment as well as in cancer treatment.

"Medical isotopes and leveraging our existing infrastructure in a post-COVID world are an important part of the future of nuclear, and Bruce Power is a leader and innovator in this sector," Tim Gitzel, president and CEO of Cameco, said.

Leveraging life extension

Bruce and Cameco were both involved in the launch in April of the Retooling and Economic Recovery Council (REEC), which aimed to use Ontario's nuclear industry supply chain to assist in the province's fight against COVID-19. Its focus has up to now been on ensuring that communities have the tools needed to endure the pandemic, but that focus is now turning to recovery. Much of Ontario's supply chain being leveraged by the REEC has been developed for the ongoing Bruce Life-Extension Program, which will continue to be a key economic driver, the companies said.

Cameco, which is already a specialist supplier of components for the Major Component Replacement at Bruce, will supply 1600 specialised fuel bundles for the restart of Bruce 6, which builds on existing fuel arrangements worth an estimated CAD2 billion announced in 2017.

The programme will see six of Bruce's eight Candu units, located near Tiverton, upgraded between now and 2033, extending their operation to 2064. The total cost of the Bruce refurbishment has been estimated at about CAD8 billion (USD5.6 billion), and it has been described as one of Canada's largest infrastructure projects.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News