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Chalk River nuclear science lab gets $55M upgrade


Chalk River, ON – A $55-million upgrade in the nuclear science and technology capacity at Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), a subsidiary of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, was recently completed.

The project involved renovating and equipping the CNL’s Hydrogen Isotopes Technology Laboratory, which is home to 12 unique labs. Hydrogen isotopes include hydrogen, deuterium and tritium. The new state-of-art hydrogen laboratory will allow scientists to continue to pursue research related to the safe operations of nuclear reactors and the development of clean energy technologies.

A government spokesperson says the labs will:

  • Conduct work in the area of heavy water production and upgrading, and the handling of tritium. This technology can also be applied to areas such as purification of tritium-contaminated water.
  • Develop reactor safety systems designed to manage hydrogen release during emergency situations. The lab also develops technology to mitigate hydrogen in non-nuclear applications such as in hydrogen dispensing for fuel-cell vehicles.
  • Apply nuclear and renewable energy technologies to produce hydrogen, without emitting greenhouse gases, to develop technologies for energy storage, and to develop hydrogen fuel cell components.
  • Conduct research into the use of tritium as a power source for long-life batteries.
  • Apply all the above technologies for collaborative and commercial work with national and international academic and industrial partners.

CNL was spun off from AECL in November as part of the federal government’s plan to transform the Crown corporation into a government-owned, but contractor-operated (GoCo) model for the management of AECL’s nuclear laboratories. CNL then assumed full responsibility for all day-to-day operations of AECL sites, and the government is currently in the process of procuring a GoCo contractor. The government says that a transfer to the new GoCo contractor is planned for later this year. At that time, CNL will become a private-sector entity, while AECL will remain as a small Crown corporation focused on the management and oversight of the contract, along with retaining ownership of the Nuclear Laboratories’ physical and intellectual property assets and its liabilities.