Partnering for energy transition
November 2, 2023
As nuclear energy emerges as a key component of Canada’s energy transition towards a low-carbon economy, Queen’s is strengthening research partnerships with stakeholders in this sector. On Monday, the university signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), Canada’s premier nuclear science and technology laboratory, and Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), a federal Crown corporation with a mandate to drive nuclear opportunity for Canada.
"With recognized research strength in nuclear materials, Queen’s is advancing understanding of the role of nuclear power in a low-carbon economy," says Dr. Nancy Ross, Vice-Principal Research at Queen’s. "Now, in partnership with AECL and CNL, we’ll have the opportunity to further harness the expertise and resources of academia, government, and industry to pursue shared goals in research and technological innovation – helping to shape Canada’s energy transition."
This partnership will leverage the leading nuclear engineering research being done at Queen’s and its membership in the University Network of Excellence in Nuclear Engineering (UNENE), a Canadian-based alliance of universities and organizations that support the development of nuclear education and research.
Queen’s is also home of the Reactor Materials Testing Laboratory (RMTL), a state-of-the-art facility built to advance the development and increase the lifespan of existing and new nuclear reactors. Led by Mark Daymond (Mechanical and Materials Engineering), the RMTL studies the mechanical properties and corrosion processes that occur in reactors using a proton accelerator to inflict damage into materials at a microscopic scale.
Partnering with CNL and AECL will expand Queen’s nuclear research program through ongoing engagement between internal and external researchers, the pursuit of joint research projects, and knowledge mobilization, including intellectual property protection and commercialization, in areas of mutual interest. The agreement identifies shared goals in the areas of health, safety and security, energy and the environment, including materials science and applications, nuclear waste management, cybersecurity, safety of nuclear technologies, and hydrogen production, distribution and conversion technologies.
This is an important time for the nuclear industry in Canada and Ontario, with significant expansion on the horizon," says Dr. Daymond, who is also the UNENE Research Chair in Nuclear Materials and Canada Research Chair in Mechanics of Materials. "Our society needs to rapidly increase low-carbon electricity production to enable de-carbonisation of home heating, the transport grid, and heavy industry. Nuclear will play a major role in enabling this de-carbonisation, in partnership with renewables and energy storage. This MoU represents a step forward for Queen’s, enhancing our collaborations in addressing these goals."
AECL and CNL have been partnering with a growing list of Canadian universities, aiming to cultivate closer relationships with Canada’s academic community, and to advance collaborative research.
Owner of the Chalk River Laboratories and other sites, AECL manages the Government of Canada’s radioactive waste responsibilities and supports 14 federal departments and agencies through its Federal Nuclear Science and Technology Work Plan.
"AECL has been looking to convene academia, government, and industry to advance innovation and build a talent pipeline to ensure we can deploy nuclear technologies with speed. It’s time for the nuclear industry to shine and Queen’s is a strong partner that has significant achievements in nuclear for decades," says Amy Gottschling, AECL’s Vice President of Science and Technology.
Working under the direction of AECL, CNL is a world leader in the development of innovative nuclear science and technology products and services and helps create connections between the government, academia, the nuclear industry, and private sector.
"CNL and Queen’s have areas of shared interest in our nuclear research programs, and this agreement will allow us to explore opportunities to combine resources and expand our research objectives. The MoU also demonstrates the continued momentum and growth of our Academic Partnership Program, which is designed to help develop a new generation of researchers, scientists and technical experts in nuclear-related fields," says Jeff Griffin, CNL’s Vice-President of Science & Technology.
By offering improved access to shared resources and facilities, the three organizations hope to not only pursue joint research projects and programs, but also to cultivate a more talented and diverse workforce within the Canadian nuclear industry, by offering rich and dynamic learning opportunities for students.