Provinces with 55% of Canada’s Population Working on Gen 4 Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

Alberta is joining New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan to work together to support the development and deployment of SMRs (small modular reactors).

Combined the four provinces are 21 million out of Canada’s 38 million people.

SMRs in the future could also support Alberta’s oil and gas industry by reducing their emissions. SMR’s can be used to heat steam for the enhanced recovery of oil. Nuclear generation of heat would be cleaner than burning oil or gas to generate steam.

Canada is a world leader with the most advanced fourth generation small modular nuclear reactors.

There are many global SMR projects but Canada is involved with four out of six leading fourth-generation nuclear projects.

There are two molten salt reactors, a sodium cooled fast reactor and a micro modular reactor.
* Terrestrial Energy IMSR 400 Integrated Molten Salt Reactor (195 MWe)

Molten salt technology in the IMSR® design leads to a nuclear power plant that is “walk-away” safe and has transformative commercial advantages.

Operating at 47 percent thermal efficiency, an IMSR® power plant generates 195 megawatts of electricity with a thermal-spectrum, graphite-moderated, molten-fluoride-salt reactor system. It uses today’s standard nuclear fuel – comprising standard-assay low-enriched uranium (less than 5 percent 235U) – critical for near-term commercial deployment

* Micro Modular Reactor – High-Temperature Gas-cooled Reactor 5 megawatt of electrical power
Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation with Global First Power

* ARC 100 – Sodium cooled Fast Reactor (SFR), ARC Nuclear Canada Inc

* a Moltex Energy Stable Salt Reactor

SOURCES- SMR Nuclear, World Nuclear News
Written By Brian Wang,

63 thoughts on “Provinces with 55% of Canada’s Population Working on Gen 4 Small Modular Nuclear Reactors”

  1. There is an enormous amount of waffle, dancing around words, and refusing to state what he is actually talking about.
    To his great credit, he comes right out and admits he’s waffling and dancing around words, and says this is all to protect their IP and not to mislead any investors. Which doesn’t stop a lot of other projects, but maybe the other projects are all fools?

    Alt least they have actual photos of existing equipment now. They should slip a couple to their website creator.

  2. Your points just show you’ve barely looked into it. Yes the website is not great. It’s probably been put together by their filmmaker.

  3. That Safire website seemed VERY dodgy to me.
    1.. They hardly even mentioned fusion. They just danced around the subject. If you’ve actually achieved fusion you would be shouting to the rooftops. If you have a plan for it you typically talk about milestones and triple points and how many orders of magnitude you need to scale up the pressure/temp/time to get a good yield. But these guys just say “we make plasma. Therefore energy. Hydrogen. Wink wink, nudge, nudge. Say no more.”
    2.. They literally reference brilliant energy A.K.A, blacklight power as a basis for their work.
    3.. They proudly proclaim they don’t have a theoretical basis for their process, just empirical data. They don’t provide the empirical data.
    4.. Fancy, graphical design and moving frames in their website. But zero photographs. Everything is computer graphics about what it might look like in the future. No photos of actual test machines.

    Sorry but no.

  4. Uranium 233 has a 160 thousand year half life, versus 24 thousand for plutonium 239. The problem is that it is unavoidably contaminated with U232, also formed from thorium, which has a 69 year half life. That starts decaying, and part of its decay chain is Thallium 208, a potent gamma ray source, which soon builds up to levels too dangerous to handle.

  5. My vague impression is that U233 will decay fairly quickly, so such weapons aren’t very good for someone who isn’t planning on using them right away.

    Also, the old gun designs, while simple* and lower tech, are also heavier and less efficient, so if you have the capability to make an implosion plutonium device you do. It’s the grenade taped to a commercial drone level of weapon development.

    Lastly, thorium reactors aren’t an established tech yet, so you’d have to do a lot of the R&D yourself to get actual breeding up and running. Much easier to use the tech developed by a superpower and just steal/bribe/donate-to-campaign-funds your way into getting it.

    *While people learn how the gun A-bombs work reading the encyclopaedia entry at age 9, I wouldn’t be TOO surprised if there are a couple of subtleties that get glossed over in the public information.

  6. Tritium is radioactive, but is it actually fissile ie. able to be induced to undergo a fission chain reaction?

  7. Yes there is alot of background noise from the EU crowd. But the Safire project crew seems pretty solid. Check out the interviews of the lead guy. The operating mechanism of their reactor is logical: a round metal anode surrounded by spherical cathode chamber filled with hydrogen. Play with the voltage and current until plasma is formed and harvest the heat with circulating coolant. Makes sense to me.

  8. This Earth to Earth system I believe would prosper by making the receiving rectennae large, usually, to be able to be *hit* with smaller transmitters. In Space Solar, the Earth built receivers are at least 50% of the system cost, as they are so numerous and have to be large, based upon the allowable beam power. There would be no protective corridor, just a very weak beam, 20% solar is usual benchmark. The military MUST determine some frequencies. The next step is the orbiting of some of these miracle Electromagnetic metamaterials. And I don’t mean 5 years from now!

  9. So, the magic lens redirectors sound very good. I think he may be mistaken about the need for precise radar transmitters, as Space Solar uses request pilot beams, from which the return beam is formed. It then goes to multiple targets with the needed strength, thru the magic of phased array. And this would allow the transmitter to flex a little, slowly at least, I believe. Lunar Solar would solve this problem if it is one, as the Moon is rigid. It is also already there, facing the Earth.

  10. Yes, I had seen a report about that. the small rectennae are because the distance is so small. but the Physics is the same, and the beam goes thru space much better than atmos. Such an important topic for today!

  11. The claim of 47% efficiency requires exceptionally high steam pressures and temperatures that are at the fringe of steam turbine practicality. It is relatively straightforward to reverse engineer the required conditions. The required steam generators are also at the fringe of practicality. Steam generators inevitably suffer tube failures and that creates a number safety problems. Process steam is generally low temperature/pressure and at at saturated conditions. Turbine extraction ports are generally necessary and that complicates the steam cycle. If advanced reactors are to compete, they need to move beyond the obsolete Rankine steam cycle and embrace gas turbine cycles.

  12. I’m guessing it’s not as easy to make a U233 bomb as you say, or all the people who’ve had pressing reasons to make one over the last seventy years, including the US government, would have done so. (They did try one with plutonium and U233 in Operation Teapot, but yield was 33% below predictions, and there was no follow up.)

  13. That is the salt temperature they hope to achieve, it would be suitable for process heat. There would be no problem to generate steam of any (lower) temperature you desire.

  14. It has to be cheap and fast and deployable at massive scale ASAP. 
    I think that could be done.
    What it really needs is the political will.

  15. Sodium-cooled fast reactors are breeders, so ARC100. Moltex is starting with thermal but they have a very similar breeder design.

  16. Which if these are breeders? If neither, then why even bother?
    No chance of them having enough of an edge to be worth building without breeding.

  17. Are you really comparing hypothetical PPT fusion reactors to fission reactors? Does PPT font selection matter that much?

    The future needs lots of electricity and process heat. Lots. Of. It. Thanks to the power grid we don’t care quite so much how it is made so long as it is cheap. Sadly I don’t see any tokamak reactor being competitive with Gen IV fission reactors.

    And that’s coming from someone who is invested in a Fusion startup- one that if it works would be much cheaper than fission (LPP- Focus Fusion).

  18. “Radioactivity and dangers involved from fusion reactors is nothing compared to nuclear, you can’t make that comparison.”

    Relas. He wasn’t making that comparison although you seemed to think he was.

    Nobody said fission didn’t produce more radiowaste than fusion. Brett was refuting the claim that fusion produces 0 radiowaste. That’s all.

  19. “Sending people up is just propaganda and vanity now. Same for Mars.
    Anyone who wants to live on the Moon should be classified as a lunatic,
    anyone who wants to live in space is a vacuum skull, and anyone who
    thinks Mars has more to offer than any place on Earth…hasn’t been
    there yet.” You do understand some of O’Neill, as to settling Mars or Moon, and should note that O’Neill is comparing Space to Earth, and Earth comes up short for the SAME reasons!

  20. “Robots on the Moon are clearly viable, they were there before Neil
    Armstrong and they’re still there. Industry ? Without power beaming and
    orbital habitats, there’s not much rationale for it.” Please note that power beaming IS radar, particularly the stuff in comm sats, and we have it. O’Neill Settlements are after the robots, not before, so their existence cannot be required for robots.

  21. “You can make power on Earth, where you need it, without an immensely long power delivery, and without significant pollution” Please give the cost estimate for 20-200 TWe, made on Earth as you describe. For comparison, note the 1 cent per KWe-h retail estimate, which allows for completion without further outside investment., this before cheap Musk rockets. And esp the delivery advantages of power beaming, including Earth to Earth and Moon to Moon.

  22. “We’re in the process of wrecking the climate regime that we evolved in.
    Blowing thousand ton holes in the ozone layer for a joyride isn’t the
    best response.” Altho global warming was not definite in the 70’s, O’Neill’s support of ISRU Space Solar, in the form of Glaser Solar Power Sats, would have, if done, solved the problem by now. ISRU is to do *instead* of launch. And if you have a place to go, you will stay in O’Neill Space, quickly cancelling any water exhaust your rocket would have emitted as a pollutant. More ideas to come!

  23. Would you care to go into some details? You have already lost the important round, as interest in lunar ISRU is solid, after 40 year delay.

  24. I think you meant to say it is the protactinium that is easier to separate out before it decays in U233.

    Its probably much easier to use centrifuges or laser enrichment to make a bomb than bothering to have a nuclear electricity program (although such programs can provide useful cover/deniability).

  25. Ah, actually some proposed fusion power cycles do involve a substantial inventory of fissile material, albeit not high atomic weight fissiles. Breeding He3 involves creating a large inventory of Tritium, which then decays to He3 with a half life of 12 years.

    Granted, tritium isn’t the world’s most dangerous fissile element…

  26. Yes ! At the time, I thought it was awesome. Now, I can see the wisdom of Senator William Proxmire – ‘ Not a penny for this nutty fantasy !’

  27. I suspect there are a number of really overly optimistic claims being made that are at the fringe of practicality. For instance, the IMSR claim of 700C (about 1290F) is well beyond the capabilities of today’s steam turbines.

  28. There is also the issue pointed out by Scaryjello: that thorium reactors are very easy to divert into nuclear weapons material. U233 is much, much easier to separate out from Th than trying to separate isotopes, and can be used to make a super simple, you learned about this in school, gun-type nuclear bomb.
    So exactly the best application for thorium reactors (those places that don’t, for some reason, have no access to uranium) are exactly the places where the powers that be do NOT want to have Th reactors.

  29. We can’t compare the cost of two technologies when one of them doesn’t exist yet.

    You are comparing the cost of made up, fantasy reactors against real world existing reactors. Naturally the fantasy reactors can be much better; fantasy things often are.

    The only things we know with any confidence is that
    1.. fusion reactors should have less (not zero) radioactive waste. All proposed fusion schemes release at least some high energy neutrons, so material will become irradiated.
    2.. fusion systems should not need any fissile materials, with associated reduced security costs.
    3.. fusions systems should not have multi-tonne cores of hot, radio-active-decay materials needing foolproof cooling schemes.

  30. The molten salt companies getting the most funding are burners, not breeders. To run a closed fuel cycle on thorium means you need to be very parsimoniuos with your neutrons, since each fission, on average, has to trigger another, fission, to keep the chain reaction going, and also breed a uranium atom, from thorium, for a break-even reactor. That’s two neutrons, and U233 fission only averages 2.2 emitted. That leaves very little room for parasitic losses, so you have to use lithium 7 enriched to 99.995 percent, process the salt continuously to remove protactinium and fission products, and use low neutron cross-section materials to separate the fuel salt and the breeding salt – a very challenging ask. MS reactors that burn either enriched uranium or reactor grade plutonium, with maybe a bonus from converting some fertile material to fuel, should be a lot easier. That’s the route the Oak Ridge Laboratory pioneers had planned to go down, before their project was cancelled in the 70s.

  31. Not uncomfortable, just implausible. You can make power on Earth, where you need it, without an immensely long power delivery, and without significant pollution. Robots on the Moon are clearly viable, they were there before Neil Armstrong and they’re still there. Industry ? Without power beaming and orbital habitats, there’s not much rationale for it. Sending people up is just propaganda and vanity now. Same for Mars. Anyone who wants to live on the Moon should be classified as a lunatic, anyone who wants to live in space is a vacuum skull, and anyone who thinks Mars has more to offer than any place on Earth…hasn’t been there yet. Visiting space ? Aren’t there more useful things you can do with your money ? We’re in the process of wrecking the climate regime that we evolved in. Blowing thousand ton holes in the ozone layer for a joyride isn’t the best response.

  32. Both fusion and fission have been achieved by mother Nature long before we tried it. For fission, all it took was a natural uranium deposit in water-bearing rock, in Africa two billion years ago – the ratio of U235 was about the same then as we get by enrichment now. Bingo, a self regulating boiling water reactor. Fusion takes a mass of hydrogen about 75 times Jupiter’s. Even at the temperature and pressure of the core of the Sun, it’s still a pretty low-rate reaction : half the hydrogen nuclei are likely to fuse in about four billion years. That’s why any useful fusion reactor would have to be far hotter than the Sun, and use more reactive fuels. Fission has way better energy density, as well as being way easier.

  33. Fusion is better long term option.
    Future fusion reactors will be much cheaper than fission ones and will be completely viable option. Since we need a lot of “clean” energy now, then both options, such as fission molten salt reactors and fusion ones should be developed. 

    Fission molten salt reactors are more practical solution, but in the long run I don’t see a high tech future with fission.

    Both Commonwealth Fusion and Tokamak Energy are developing 20+ tesla magnets.

  34. Tokamak fusion cannot economically compete with Gen III+ or IV fission so it is a nonviable option.

  35. Oh, I’m fine with doing research on it, I figure we’re going to crack that nut eventually. And while fission is great if you’re on a planet with convenient concentrations of fissile and fertile elements concentrated by geologic processes, it clearly is lacking for fuel in much of the solar system.

    But let’s not pretend it’s anything like as easy as fission, or lacking in problems of its own. I expect working fusion reactors to be maintenance nightmares compared to fission. Fission practically begs to work. fusion is pretty clever about avoiding working.

    And, as soon as we crack that nut, the watermelons will suddenly find reasons to oppose fusion, because what they really oppose is adequate energy to run an industrial civilization.

  36. I up voted you because, yes fission based on U238->Pu239 &/or Th232->U233 breeding is good to provide several kilowatts to each of several billion people for the next few geologic eras.
    That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t bother with fusion research. If nothing else we will want fusion for settling the outer solar system, where it is a lot easier to get deuterium than uranium & thorium, & maybe we can even manage the CNO cycle for fusing ordinary hydrogen to helium.

  37. “you’d need at least some of the elements involved to be known tech” I’ve been loudly complaining that we should start on that for over 40 years. Glad you agree!

  38. Nukes are actually far more likely to provide heat than electricity at large scale. The loss in the conversion of heat to electricity alone makes them too expensive compared to Space Solar, a form of fusion that starts with high quality photons. And can be delivered and load balanced without transmission lines.

  39. Iter uses 20 year old designs with obsolete tech. Bureaucratic project, waste of brainpower.  So many countries involved. It is how not to do it. SLS twin.

    If you improve magnets you can build much smaller reactor like SPARC project from MIT.
    Tokamak energy understands magnets are the key tech. That means it is stupid to build projects like ITER and waste money and time. Instead they work on technologies that will make fusion reactors much cheaper, smaller, faster to build,… And you do that with better magnets at least that is their approach.

    There a lot of approaches to nuclear fusion. Private firms have progressed nicely in the last few years even if they have only couple 100 millions dollars of funding per year. 1 nuclear reactor costs 5-10 billion dollars and private fusion companies have nice progress with pennies. I am not convinced by simple quote “it is too hard”.
    It is a matter of correct approach and money. Private sector should do it.

  40. So, does the same problem prevent an estimate for the nukes? Is robots on the Moon harder than self sustaining human settlements on Mars? Or do you just find the idea of LSP uncomfortable?

  41. No it is not, it is completely relevant. Fusion is completely logical choice for the future. Now it seems like too hard, but it is not developed yet. That will change.

    “And even if you use a nominally aneutronic reaction, (Hard!) side reactions guarantee radioactivity.”
    Lol. Such irrelevant nonsne. Radioactivity and dangers involved from fusion reactors is nothing compared to nuclear, you can’t make that comparison.

    Deuterium is not so expensive and you don’t necessarily need tritium.

    If 1 nuclear reactor costs between 5000- 10000 million dollars and in private fusion they spend (if) couple 100 million per year then you really can’t develop the tech significantly.

  42. Just think of the resulting oil as a synfuel manufactured using nuclear power, and it all becomes clear.

  43. That’s basically all either nonsense or irrelevant.

    Fusion gives more power per kg of fuel, if you can get it working. Irrelevant for anything but very high delta V nuclear rocketry, because it’s still a tiny amount of fuel in either case.

    You don’t need uranium or thorium, true. Instead you need rare or synthetic isotopes of *light* elements. Deuterium, tritium, He3.

    And even if you use a nominally aneutronic reaction, (Hard!) side reactions guarantee radioactivity.

    But, yeah, fusion might have some advantages if it weren’t about 10,000 times harder to pull off than fission. Which is the real problem.

  44. For a worthwhile cost estimate of in situ lunar solar power, you’d need at least some of the elements involved to be known tech. Has anyone ever manufactured a solar panel from lunar-type rock, even at lab scale ? Remember, you don’t have a hydrosphere to conveniently sort things into silica, metal ores, etc, and you don’t have a huge worldwide industrial infrastructure to zip in whatever’s needed – it’s all at the bottom of a bloody deep gravity well. Just getting there isn’t enough.

  45. Just the magnets for ITER will weigh ten thousand tonnes – and it still won’t produce any useful power. It will only give 500 megawatts thermal for twenty minutes. They won’t even use tritium and deuterium in the plasma for the first few years, because as soon as they do, neutron radiation will make the tokamak too radioactive to get into. It’s taken scores of top physicists from 35 countries, and probably 65 billion dollars by the time it’s complete.
    Argentina is hardly a front-line industrial power, yet it’s producing the CAREM reactor, which will eventually make about as much thermal energy as ITER, but continuously, and with heat exchangers included to turn that heat into useful electricity. CAREM’s whole pressure vessel, which contains the core and the heat exchangers, will be much smaller, and simpler, than just one of ITER’s primary magnets. CAREM doesn’t need tons of liquid nitrogen and liquid helium to keep its magnets happy, megawatts of power just to start it, and a vacuum to keep the hot and cold bits separate. More important, the wee Argie nuke is pretty well guarranteed to work – fission’s so simple even Homer Simpson can run it – whereas there’s every chance that some glitch, foreseen or not, will keep the multinational behemoth powerless.

  46. On reading the headline, I wondered why Alberta with its massive investment in tar sands was looking at nukes. Then it turns out they are going to be used to generate steam to extract oil. It all seems upside down.

  47. “I’ll go further. If we can perfect the Gen 4 reactor, the technology is
    so good we may never need to perfect fusion. Yes, it’s that good.”

    Nah. Fusion gives much more power, you don’t need uranium or other radioactive fuel(in some cases could be used for nuclear weapons), can be build faster(when they will get grip on it), because you dont need all that safety measures like nuclear reactors need, no radiactive waste products,… Fusion wins all the way.

  48. Can we do it faster, please?

    The world needs circa 5000 GW of zero emission generation capacity by 2040 to have a shot at 80% economywide decarbonization by 2050.

    It has to be cheap and fast and deployable at massive scale ASAP.

  49. Gen 4 reactors are the future. Solar’s nice and has some useful applications, but Gen 4 is the way.

    Every serious environmentalist supports Gen 4 reactors. If they hate nuclear power because it “might explode like Hiroshima” then they’re not serious. They’re simply parroting lies from the anti-nuclear hippies of the 60’s. It’s utter nonsense and can’t be taken seriously.

    Even when you include Chernobyl, nuclear is BY FAR the safest form of energy in terms of casualties per TWh. Not even solar comes close.

    I’ll go further. If we can perfect the Gen 4 reactor, the technology is so good we may never need to perfect fusion. Yes, it’s that good.

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