Canadian Nuclear Laboratories announced Thursday that it has been awarded an $8.5 million contract by the government of Canada to refuel the SLOWPOKE-2 nuclear reactor at the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) in Kingston.
The SLOWPOKE-2 is a low-power, self-regulating reactor that produces neutrons for scientific research.
It is used solely for professional development and academic research, including nuclear and radiological forensic expertise, and rapid response capabilities for environmental and nuclear emergencies, primarily by the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces.
Under terms of the contract, CNL will remove the old reactor core from the federally owned nuclear reactor, commission the reactor with a newly fabricated core that is being manufactured at CNL’s Chalk River Laboratories, and transfer the spent core to a licensed nuclear waste management facility.
CNL said the project will take nearly three years to complete and will extend the life of the 34-year-old reactor by another 30 years.
“As the original inventors of the SLOWPOKE reactor design and the only organization 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.
“In recent years, CNL has successfully delivered projects to conduct both a SLOWPOKE core conversion, as well as reactor decommissioning and removal.
“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.”
Developed by CNL in the late 1960s, the Safe Low-Power Kritical Experiment (SLOWPOKE) reactor is a low-power, compact core reactor technology that was designed for neutron activation analysis, trace radioisotope production and as a tool for teaching 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 today.
Photo: Screen shot taken from a YouTube video on the SLOWPOKE 2 reactor at RMC. Full video available here.