UNENE R&D Workshop offers a glimpse into the future

Two researchers in nuclear lab
Image: CNL

MARCH 15, 2022 – The University Network of Excellence in Nuclear Engineering (UNENE) brings industry, academia and government together for collaboration that drives excellence in nuclear industry engineering, operations and research.

Nuclear power is a key ingredient in clean energy systems that are low in carbon and provide large amounts of electricity for the clean energy economy of the future. Continually improving and driving innovation of nuclear technologies will help us ensure all people can benefit from this important source of electricity as we strive to reduce and eliminate carbon emissions from our energy supply.

Through UNENE’s three-day seminar, participants learn about the latest developments in government direction, industry investment and activities as well as what researchers are working on in the labs to inform policy, business and career decisions.

UNENE’s last workshop in December 2021 was no exception. Thanks to a great lineup of industry experts, academic researchers and students presenting their work over three days, that collaboration once again resulted in new connections and discoveries.

Through the summaries below and links to recordings of the sessions, UNENE offers everyone a chance to strengthen their knowledge about the latest in nuclear developments.

Click here to access a full lineup of session recordings or select from the presentation summaries below.


Industry Research Chair presentations

David Novog headshot

Nuclear Safety Analysis and Nuclear Reactor Safety and Thermalhydraulics
Dave Novog, McMaster University

Professors Dave Novog and John Luxat head up the Nuclear Safety Analysis and Nuclear Reactor Safety and Thermalhydraulics Industrial Research Chair (IRC) at McMaster University. At UNENE’s R&D Workshop in December 2021, Novog described the program, which is in its final year before potential renewal, as intensive and wide-ranging. The underlying theme of the IRC is uncertainty analysis and applications, but the focal areas of the project have evolved over the years to take on different topics. Notably, the impact of Fukushima has increased the focus on severe accident methodologies and emergency planning, as well as safety and risk analysis and computational assessment tools. Novog also highlighted the importance of collaboration with industry partners. “None of these projects would be successful without our partners. We continue to use industry as both a research collaborator and also a training collaborator for the students involved.”

Click here to watch Novog’s entire presentation.

Mark Daymond headshot

Nuclear Materials
Mark Daymond, Queen’s University

Mark Daymond conducts the Nuclear Materials Industrial Research Chair (IRC) at Queen’s University and was recently appointed to the CNSC advisory group on fuel channel behaviour. At UNENE’s R&D Workshop in December 2021, Daymond spoke to the scope of the Nuclear Materials IRC. The program focuses on key CANDU reactor components, with an emphasis on fuel channels and all associated degradation and deformation mechanisms. Queen’s innovative Reactor Materials Testing Laboratory houses a proton accelerator and microscope and thermochemical facilities, which allow for exploration of a wide range of topics, including irradiation damage and microstructure property relationships, radiation damage microscopy, computational modelling, corrosion of nuclear materials, and nuclear particle production and interactions. Daymond also underlined the importance of UNENE’s long-term support, saying it “convinces the university that this is an area that’s really worth investing in and it allows us to really build and expand.”

Click here to watch Daymond’s entire presentation.

Clara Wren headshot

Radiation-Induced Chemical & Materials Science
Clara Wren, Western University

Clara Wren leads the Radiation-Induced Chemical & Materials Science Industrial Research Chair (IRC) at Western University. The IRC is currently finishing up its third term and is supported by NWMO. Among other topics, the research program specializes in materials for long-term spent fuel management. During UNENE’s R&D Workshop in December 2021, Wren highlighted how the Radiation Assisted Materials Performance Group (RAMPS) employs a rare but noteworthy combination of experimental and dynamics modelling to study the multiphase interactions of ionizing radiation. She also expressed her pride in the performance and achievements of her students. “You may have a lot of instruments, but really what makes all this work are the people,” says Wren of her research team.

Click here to watch Wren’s entire presentation.

Peter Tremaine headshot

High Temperature Aqueous Chemistry
Peter Tremaine, University of Guelph

Peter Tremaine leads the High Temperature Aqueous Chemistry Industrial Research Chair (IRC) at the University of Guelph. Recently renewed for a second term, the program concentrates on modelling the chemistry of aqueous systems with innovative thermochemical and spectroscopic instruments and conducts unique research using heavy water. A key feature of the program lies in its contribution to internationally accepted database development. At UNENE’s R&D Workshop in December 2021, Tremaine reported several of the program’s recent highlights, notably, significant progress on deuterium isotope effects for CANDU primary coolant chemistry and inorganic sulfate hideout thermodynamics and metal glycolate complexes for CANDU secondary coolant chemistry.

Click here to watch Tremaine’s entire presentation.

Ed Waller headshot

Health Physics and Environmental Safety
Ed Waller, Ontario Tech University

Ed Waller heads up the Health Physics and Environmental Safety Industrial Research Chair (IRC) at Ontario Tech University. The research program focuses on the intersection of safety, security and environment, and examines topics like dosimetry, decommissioning, emergency preparedness, radiation field mapping and visualization, training improvements and dose to human and non-human biota through modelling and experiments. At UNENE’s R&D Workshop in December 2021, Waller provided updates on the program, including equipment acquisitions and the status of current research projects. He noted the Guidance on Protective Actions in a Nuclear or Radiology Environment projects will be especially important as the Canadian nuclear industry delves further into the world of SMRs. Waller also emphasized the potential benefit of improving public perception of nuclear through community engagement.

Click here to watch Waller’s entire presentation.

Jin Jiang headshot

Controls, Instrumentation and Electrical Systems
Jing Jiang, Western University

Jing Jiang oversees the Controls, Instrumental and Electrical Systems Industrial Research Chair (IRC) at Western University, which has been operational for nearly 20 years. Recently, the research program has focused its attention closely on SMRs, specifically control and operations, health and operating status monitoring and integration with different energy sources in off-grid microgrids. At UNENE’s R&D Workshop in December 2021, Jiang discussed the program’s steady progress and attainable objectives, but acknowledged the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented, including reduced lab access and student recruitment obstacles.

Click here to watch Jiang’s entire presentation.

Mahesh Pandey headshot

Risk-based Life Cycle Management of Engineering Systems
Mahesh Pandey, University of Waterloo

Mahesh Pandey manages the Risk-Based Life Cycle Management of Engineering Systems Industrial Research Chair (IRC) at the University of Waterloo. With a background in real estate condition assessment at OPG, Pandey’s current research focus lies in examining optimal decisions for risk minimization using the (often limited) available information and reducing costs. At UNENE’s R&D Workshop in December 2021, he outlined the objectives of the program as developing reliability and life cycle analysis methods for nuclear systems, developing risk-informed approaches for probabilistic assessment of reactor systems and solving a wide variety of practical problems related to reliability of nuclear plant systems. These goals are approached through research projects focusing on aging management and multi-unit site-wide risk assessment.

Click here to watch Pandey’s entire presentation.

Roger Newman headshot

Corrosion Control and Materials Performance in Nuclear Power Systems
Roger Newman, University of Toronto

The University of Toronto’s Roger Newman and Queen’s University’s Suraj Persaud jointly run the Corrosion Control and Materials Performance Industrial Research Chair (IRC). The research program focuses on deepening understanding of corrosion processes in steels and other metal alloys, while considering behaviours associated with trace impurities, water chemistry and the effects of radiation. Newman provided an update on the research program at UNENE’s R&D Workshop in December 2021, reviewing the status of the various projects underway at both Queen’s University and the University of Toronto and emphasizing the collaboration between the two institutions in the IRC.

Click here to watch Newman’s entire presentation.

Research Cooperative Projects presentations

William Cook headshot

Overview of Nuclear Research at UNB’s Centre for Nuclear Energy Research
Willy Cook, University of New Brunswick

Willy Cook conducts the Research Cooperative Project (RCP) Evaluation of the effect of ion exchange resin on feeder integrity at University of New Brunswick (UNB) and leads the institution’s Centre for Nuclear Energy Research (CNER). At UNENE’s R&D Workshop in December 2021, he provided an update on the research project. In addition, Cook also gave an overview of CNER’s various research activities, which cover traditional areas of nuclear research, like corrosion, but also innovative new endeavours, like the reuse of spent CANDU fuel to create molten salt that can power Moltex’s SMRs.

Click here to watch Cook’s entire presentation.

Marilyn Lightstone headshot

CFD Analysis of Natural Convection Heat Transfer in Corium Melt for CANDU Reactors
Marilyn Lightstone, McMaster University

Marilyn Lightstone leads the Research Cooperative Project (RCP) Computational modelling of corium heat transfer and fluid flow along with fellow engineering professor Stephen Tullis at McMaster University. Her project looks at measuring corium melt with the objective of better understanding the unique features of natural convection heat transfer of CANDU corium in particular, which is less studied than PWR corium. At UNENE’s R&D Workshop in December 2021, she outlined the key findings of the project thus far, as well as next steps for the safety-focused research.

Click here to watch Lightstone’s entire presentation.

Zhongwen Yao headshot

Failure Analysis in X-750 CANDU Spacer Materials Using Ion Irradiation, Mechanical Testing, and TEM Examination
Zhongwen Yao (presentation by Pouyan Changizian), Queen’s University

Zhongwen Yao leads the Research Cooperative Project (RCP) Investigation of irradiated spacer materials (X-750 and Zr-Nb-Cu) at Queen’s University. At the university’s Reactor Materials Testing Laboratory (RMTL), Yao and his team study the effects of damage caused by fast neutrons and transmutation reactions due to thermal neutrons. As part of UNENE’s R&D Workshop in December 2021, Pouyan Changizian, a member of Yao’s team, presented on the effects of irradiation damage on failure mechanisms of X-750 spacer material through irradiation, mechanical experiments and transmission electron microscopies.

Click here to watch Changizian’s entire presentation.

Thomas Krause headshot

Enhancing Nondestructive Evaluation for CANDU Fuel Channels
Thomas Krause, Royal Military College

Thomas Krause runs the Research Cooperative Project (RCP) Enhancing nondestructive evaluation for CANDU fuel channels, which is a collaborative effort between Royal Military College of Canada and Queen’s University. He provided an update at UNENE’s R&D Workshop in December 2021, explaining the project’s examination of pressure tube to calandria tube gap measurement and the factors which affect it, including probe lift-off, pressure tube wall thickness, pressure tube and calandria tube resistivity and conductor proximity.

Click here to watch Krause’s entire presentation.

Angela Schoellig headshot

Networked Drones for Concrete Structure, Environmental, and Radiation Surveys
Angela Schoellig, University of Toronto

Angela Schöellig leads the Research Cooperative Project (RCP) Networked drones for concrete structure, environmental, and radiation surveys at University of Toronto. At UNENE’s R&D Workshop in December 2021, she provided an update on the project’s aim to develop a fully automated multi-drone monitoring solution for industrial sites. Schöelling explained a swarm of drones would enable continuous monitoring of any space at a nuclear power plant, indoor or outdoor, specifically looking for concrete aging, and reviewed the parameters and challenges of the project.

Click here to watch Shöellig’s entire presentation.

Clara Wren headshot

Methodology Development for Volume Reduction and Safe Storage and Disposal of Low and Intermediate Level Radioactive Wastes
Clara Wren, Western University

Clara Wren runs the Research Cooperative Project (RCP) Methodology development for volume reduction and safe storage and disposal of low and intermediate level radioactive wastes at Western University. At UNENE’s R&D Workshop in December 2021, Wren explained that this RCP was initiated to address some of the challenges that arise around decommissioning and disposal. It compromises of two separate projects: Immobilization of ion exchange resin wastes using geopolymers and Removal of surface oxides from metallic wastes by laser ablation. She provided an update on the former, and one of her students, Thao Do, had presented a paper on the latter several days earlier.

Click here to watch Wren’s entire presentation and click here to watch Do’s presentation.

Mark Daymond headshot

A Graphene Oxide Membrane Assembly for Filtration of Tritiated Heavy Water
Mark Daymond, Queen’s University

Mark Daymond leads the Research Cooperative Project (RCP) A graphene oxide membrane assembly for filtration of tritiated heavy water at Queen’s University. The project is a collaboration with Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and Grafoid, a Kingston company looking at the use of graphene oxide. He provided an update on the project at UNENE’s R&D Workshop in December 2021, which seeks to find a simpler, more cost-effective approach than the traditional combined electrolysis/vapour phase catalytic exchange to separate tritium from heavy water for easier storage or potential further use.

Click here to watch Daymond’s entire presentation.

Carl Haas headshot

Digitalization to Support Decommissioning Tasks
Carl Haas (presentation by Sriram Narasimham), University of Waterloo

Carl Haas runs the Research Cooperative Project (RCP) Digitalization to Support Decommissioning Tasks at University of Waterloo. Sriram Narasimhan provided a project update on his behalf at UNENE’s R&D Workshop in December 2021. Narasimhan presented the project’s three primary research focuses: remote data collection and simulation environment, map processing and remote non-destructive evaluation. He also reviewed the various innovative automation and robotic methods they have developed to serve these purposes and their practical applications.

Click here to watch Narashimhan’s entire presentation.

Glenn Harvel headshot

Study of Contaminants in Plasmas during Decommissioning Processes
Glenn Harvel, Ontario Tech University

Glenn Harvel leads the Research Cooperative Project (RCP) Waste management and radionuclide monitoring at Ontario Tech University. At UNENE’s R&D Workshop in December 2021, he presented an update of one of the projects covered by this RPC, Study of contaminants in plasmas during decommissioning processes, which seeks to examine the aerosolization of contaminants by plasma torches. This study was able to produce typical plasma cutting environments, identify several different species, and established that it is possible to quantify the species that may be liberated during dismantling, and its next steps are to capture species using electrostatics or gels.

Click here to watch Harvel’s entire presentation.

Industry presentations

Bharath Nangia headshot

The Culture of Innovation (keynote)
Bharath Nangia, President and CEO, NPX Innovations

Nuclear Promise X (NPX) president and CEO Bharath Nangia presented the keynote address to students at UNENE’s R&D Workshop in December 2021. His topic was the culture of innovation and how that is realized at NPX. With the conviction that nuclear energy is part of the climate crisis solution, NPX seeks to make it “more sustainable, safer, cheaper, faster.” To accomplish this, Nangia and his team are working to reduce refurbishment timelines, engineering costs and dose on large projects, as well as to enact digital transformation and implement analytics, machine learning, robotics and automation. Their efforts are not going unnoticed; NPX has been named ‘Industry Catalyst of 2021’ by the Centre for Canadian Nuclear Sustainability and ‘Business of the Year 2021’ by the Kincardine Chamber of Commerce.

Click here to watch Nangia’s entire presentation.

Robin Manley headshot

The Need for Innovation to Build SMRs – and Fight Climate Change
Robin Manley, Vice President, New Nuclear Development, OPG

In his role Vice President of New Nuclear Development at Ontario Power Generation (OPG), Robin Manley is accountable for the implementation of small modular reactors (SMRs) in the Darlington New Nuclear Project. At UNENE’s R&D Workshop in December 2021, he spoke about the recent selection of the GE Hitachi BWRX-300 as the SMR technology to be deployed at the site, saying it was the result of a thorough and extensive process to determine the best fit for Ontario’s needs and will provide low GHG emission power for the electricity grid and for electrification of other sectors of the economy. Manley also said that ramping up Canada’s nuclear fleet will create a huge human resources need for highly skilled engineers and scientists, and that he sees UNENE playing a key role in meeting the demand. “We’re going to need you and we’re going to need people like you to come into the nuclear sector if we’re going to be successful or else we won’t be able to deploy the nuclear we’re going to need to fight this climate change problem.”

Click here to watch Manley’s entire presentation.

Sabrina Nestor headshot

CCNS Innovation
Sabrina Nestor, Senior Manager, Centre for Canadian Nuclear Sustainability

Sabrina Nestor is the Senior Manager of the Centre for Canadian Nuclear Sustainability (CCNS), which was launched by Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) Decommissioning Strategy division in October 2020. Through collaboration and research, the Centre identifies creative nuclear sector solutions and opportunities to advance and accelerate OPG’s decommissioning activities. At UNENE’s R&D Workshop in December 2021, Nestor spoke to CCNS’s goal of sustaining the clean energy lifecycle by “bringing together industry, community partners and homegrown talent to create innovative, long-term solutions.” As part of this mission, the CCNS’s Innovation Fund supports the some of UNENE’s R&D programs at Queen’s, Western, Waterloo and Ontario Tech.

Click here to watch Nestor’s entire presentation.

Carlos Lorencez headshot

UNENE-Industry R&D Collaboration
Carlos Lorencez, Director, Nuclear Safety & Environmental Affairs, COG

Carlos Lorencez leads the CANDU Owners Group’s (COG) Nuclear Safety and Environmental Affairs team. COG’s mission is to enable excellence and innovation through collaboration and has an annual budget of $60-70 million earmarked for research and member-initiated projects. At UNENE’s R&D Workshop in December 2021, Lorencez emphasized how innovation and investment in R&D is essential to maintain Canadian leadership in CANDU technology. He also spoke about the significant role academia plays in strategic R&D and the future of the nuclear industry, highlighting how the multitude of new nuclear technologies will require a greater range of high-quality personnel.

Click here to watch Lorencez’s entire presentation.

Christina Van Drunen headshot

Going Far, Together
Christina Van Drunen, Director, S&T Strategy and Collaboration, CNL

Christina Van Drunen leads the integration of Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ (CNL) science and technology strategy, including exploring opportunities to advance cutting edge research and innovation in Canada’s nuclear sector. At UNENE’s R&D Workshop in December 2021, she spoke optimistically about the enormous potential of Canada’s nuclear future and the necessity of employing both existing nuclear reactors and advanced reactors to successfully meet climate goals. Stressing the value of collaboration in the pursuit of these ambitions, she described UNENE as an industry linchpin, saying, “As a network of excellence, UNENE does the critical work of unifying the academic education and academic research efforts that feed and sustain Canada’s nuclear sector.”

Click here to watch Van Drunen’s entire presentation.

Dominique Lachance headshot
Jason Goldberg headshot

R&D at Bruce Power
Dominique Lachance and Jason Goldberg, Bruce Power

At UNENE’s R&D Workshop in December 2021, Bruce Power’s Dominique Lachance and Jason Goldberg, spoke about the company’s innovation and R&D needs. In his role as Senior Strategist in Engineering, Lachance supports projects linked to innovation and digitization. He delved into the imperatives and goals behind these activities during the workshop, specifically that Bruce Power aims to innovate and modernize so they can consistently and safely manage reactor component life, continuously improve operating efficiency, and reduce outage duration. Goldberg, the Department Manager of Nuclear Safety Analysis and Support, reiterated that R&D is a necessity that will help keep the Bruce Power in operation for a third cycle.

Click here to watch Lachance and Goldberg’s entire presentation.

Student presentations

Student paper presentations

The first day of the UNENE R&D Workshop in December 2021, saw paper presentations from 11 students on a wide range of research topics. Samantha Binkley, a PhD student at the University of Guelph, took home the prize for best presentation with her paper entitled Ionization constants of alternate amines for pH and redox control under secondary coolant conditions from scanning nanocalorimetry. Other student presenters were Hooman Gholamzadeh, Aditya Kamath, Nima Nikpoor Badr and Keyvan Ferasat from Queen’s University, Garik Patterson and Cuauhtemoc Reale Hernandez from McMaster University, Brianna Rector and Thao Do from Western University, Momal Mazher from Ontario Tech University and Anh Nguyen from University of Toronto.

Student poster presentations

At the UNENE R&D Workshop in December 2021, almost 30 student presented posters detailing their research. Exhibiting their posters on the first day were Amna Hassan, Marta Kocemba, Lekhnath Ghimire and Mustafa Ciftcioglu from Ontario Tech University, Hao Sun, Adil Shaik, Vindel Ramsundar, Hooman Gholamzadeh, Adriano Yaedu, Yaoting Zhang and Amir Ghorbani from Queen’s University and Maryanne Stones from University of Guelph. The second day saw presentations from Owen P. Purdy, Frank Hawkins, Peyman Saidi, Aditya Kamath, Victor Udo-Okoro and Mahdi Monsini from Queen’s University, Yu Luo from Western University, Colin Colterjohn and Fabiola Guido Garcia from McMaster University, Karim Zongo from École Polytechnique, Matthew Wolf from University of Guelph, and Touraj Ghaznavi from University of Toronto.