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Canadian reactor research facility set to open

09 декабря 2015
Новости отрасли

A new Centre for Advanced Nuclear Systems (CANS) at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, is due to be fully operational early next year. The centre will examine the irradiation of reactor materials, which will help in the life extension of the Canadian province’s nuclear power units.

The CANS — a network of five facilities dedicated to the study of nuclear systems — has been six years in planning. It has been funded by CAD 24.5 million ($18.1 million) from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation and private donations.

The aim of the centre, according to project leader professor of nuclear safety John Luxat, is to better understand the lifespan of components in nuclear reactors when subjected to intense neutron irradiation, essentially how materials change and degrade over time. The centre will provide laboratory support to the nuclear industry, particularly Ontario’s three nuclear power plants — Bruce, Pickering and Darlington.

“If we understand these processes better, we can extend operational life between expensive refurbishments”, Luxat said.

The largest of the new CANS facilities is the Nuclear Materials Post Irradiation Examination Facility located in the McMaster Accelerator Laboratory. This hot cells laboratory is also the most expensive of the network’s facilities, costing some CAD 17 million ($13 million).

The facility has five shielded workstations, each consisting of a thick lead-infused glass shielding window and a pair of remote manipulators for handling materials and processing it through the receiving, machining and waste handling, sample preparation, mechanical testing and light microscopy areas.

The hot cells were custom designed by US firm Merrick & Company over a two-year period and were completed in 2013. The five lead-infused windows alone cost almost CAD 1.7 million ($1.3 million).

Luxat said the hot cells laboratory is the only one at a university of its size and capabilities anywhere in the world.

Other parts of the CANS include a nuclear thermal-hydraulic testing facility; a laboratory for studying material defects using positron annihilation spectroscopy; and a nuclear materials characterization facility.

All these facilities are set to be in operation early next year.

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