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UOIT Nuclear Engineering professors awarded $282,000 to design Generation IV reactor

Three-year project has potential to vastly improve current device's efficiency while providing valuable research opportunities for students

Two associate professors at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) have been awarded $282,000 for the creation of a fuel-channel conceptual design for a Generation IV Supercritical Water-Cooled Reactor (SCWR), a project aimed to increase the efficiency of current technologies and lower energy production costs.

"This project has the potential to notably change the way nuclear energy is generated and I am very pleased to be part of this groundbreaking research project," said Dr. Igor Pioro of UOIT's Faculty of Energy Systems and Nuclear Science. "As global warming concerns continue to rise, nuclear energy is being looked upon as a viable solution to meet the country's increasing energy demands. This advanced technology will meet these growing needs with more efficiency and lower production costs."

The grant, co-funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and Natural Resources Canada's Office of Energy Research and Development and in collaboration with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) Generation IV Energy Technologies Program, was awarded to Dr. Pioro and Dr. Glenn Harvel, who is also a member of the Faculty of Energy Systems and Nuclear Science. The Generation IV initiative is an international program supported by major nuclear countries including Canada, the United States, Japan and France and others. As part of the initiative different groups are concentrating on the development of a particular concept, with Canada focusing on the SCWR design. The three-year project will lead to an alternative fuel channel design for a SCWR and is expected to provide eight to 12 research positions per year for UOIT's Nuclear Engineering undergraduate, Master's and PhD students combined.

SCWRs have the potential to operate at higher pressures and temperatures than other reactors and generate electricity at a lower cost. The new concept will see improved efficiency of 45 to 50 per cent, high pressure of 25 megapascals (MPa) and high temperature of 625 degrees Celsius compared to the existing Generation III water-cooled reactors, which currently operate at 30 to 35 per cent efficiency, high pressure of 10 to 15 MPa and high temperature of 310 degrees Celsius. Generation III reactors are presently utilized in Canada with Generation III+ reactors slated to replace previous technology in the near future. Generation IV reactor design is still in the early concept stages.

In addition, Dr. Pioro and Dr. Harvel will collaborate with AECL and the Moscow, Russia-based Research and Development Institute of Power Engineering (NIKIET), which will provide its previous design concepts and experimental data.

"I am very excited to have the opportunity to work on research that has the ability to significantly change Canada's energy production," said Dr. Harvel. "I look forward to working with Dr. Pioro, our partners and the next-generation of nuclear engineers.

The project is strongly aligned with UOIT's research commitment to sustainable energy and further supports Durham Region's growing reputation as the energy capital of Ontario. In the past five years, UOIT has attracted more than $18.3 million in research funding from many sources, including provincial and federal grants and contracts, industry contracts and grants from research foundations. These are some of the key reasons why UOIT has been named one of Canada's Top 50 research universities.

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