Canadian partnership to explore nuclear fuel recycling

31 March 2021

Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) Centre for Canadian Nuclear Sustainability (CCNS) and Moltex Energy are to collaborate on a project to demonstrate the technical viability of recycling used fuel from Candu reactors. OPG is providing CAD1 million (USD800,000) in funding for the project.

(Image: OPG)

"Our goal is to advance solutions for nuclear materials, with a continued emphasis on minimising our environmental footprint," Carla Carmichael, OPG's vice president, Nuclear Decommissioning Strategy and lead for the CCNS, said. "We know nuclear power has a key role to play as we work to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. We are committed to supporting innovation and responsible solutions aimed at developing the next generation of clean nuclear power."

"We are working to develop a technology that uses the fuel from the first generation of nuclear power in Canada to power the next," said Rory O'Sullivan, Moltex Energy's CEO, North America. "This reduces the challenges associated with spent nuclear fuel, while expanding nuclear power to help Canada achieve its climate change objectives."

The project would contribute to the development of Moltex's WAste To Stable Salt (WATSS) technology, which it says could lead to a more sustainable form of nuclear power. The Stable Salt Reactor - Wasteburner (SSR-W) variant of the Moltex Stable Salt Reactor is designed to operate using recycled fuel. Moltex intends to build a 300 MW SSR-W unit and a WATSS facility at the Point Lepreau site in Saint John, New Brunswick, aiming for grid connection by the early 2030s.

According to the Nuclear Waste Management Organisation - which is responsible for implementing Canada's plans for a deep geologic repository for used nuclear fuel - the country currently has an inventory of about 3 million used nuclear fuel bundles. Moltex's process would potentially reduce the volume of material requiring repository storage.

The CCNS was launched in 2020 by OPG, with a focus on advancing nuclear innovation, collaboration and research to seek solutions for minimising nuclear materials and recycle clean materials. Also involved in the project are Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, which through its Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative is supporting the design, construction and optimisation of testing apparatus and the University of New Brunswick, in a research and testing capacity.

The Canadian federal government has recently announced an investment of CAD50.5 million in Moltex to develop the SSR-W, as part of a CAD56 million package of investments to support the development of small modular reactor research and technology in New Brunswick.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News