Lab Canada

$17M research facility to study safer nuclear power

Kingston, ON – A $17-million Reactor Materials Testing Laboratory (RMTL) has opened at Queen’s University’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. Scientists at the facility will focus on advancing the safety and economy of nuclear power, in addition to developing research partnerships around the world.


“These advancements will…attract researchers from around the world to the RMTL, building the university’s reputation as a research leader, as well as allow us to foster relationships with collaborators and industrial partners in the field,” says Steven Liss, the university’s vice-principal (research).


The project was conceived and led by Rick Holt until his retirement as NSERC/UNENE industrial research chair in nuclear materials in 2012 and is now led by Mark Daymond, current NSERC/UNENE industrial research chair in nuclear materials, and Canada research chair in mechanics of materials.


The accelerator was installed in late 2013, with supporting infrastructure installed in 2014 and 2015. Final commissioning is expected in 2015.


Metals behave quite differently in a nuclear power reactor environment than in more conventional applications. Using a proton accelerator, researchers will investigate how materials respond to stress and temperature inside a nuclear reactor, leading to the safer and more efficient design and maintenance of the reactors.


Similar accelerators are quite common around the world – but the combination of RMTL’s dedicated capabilities and the strong nuclear materials research group at Queen’s, which has been assembled under the Industrial Research Chair program to exploit these capabilities, sets this lab apart, according to Mark Daymond.


“The uniqueness of this facility is a testament to the innovative approaches being used by the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science to enable world-leading research and to educate our students” he says.


“Internationally there is a worldwide resurgence of investment in nuclear power,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, dean, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. “This is an exciting opportunity for the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and our students, particularly our graduate students who now have access to a world-class facility in which to conduct their research.”


Funding for the RMTL was provided by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Ontario’s Ministry of Research and Innovation, in-kind donations and Queen’s matching funds.


Partners in the project include McMaster University, Western University, Royal Military College, University of Toronto, the Ontario Institute of Technology, Imperial College, Manchester University (UK), Pennsylvania State University, and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization. The project was endorsed by Ontario Power Generation Inc., the CANDU Owners Group Inc., the University Network of Excellence in Nuclear Engineering (UNENE) and Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (now Canadian Nuclear Laboratories).