Man and woman in hardhats in front of calandria

Research Cooperative Projects*

UNENE members, along with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), annually fund the Research Cooperative Projects (RCPs) in areas of importance to the nuclear industry.

These areas include: nuclear safety, plant and materials performance, decommissioning and waste management, among others.

The RCPs are dedicated only to research grants. All industry funding is fully leveraged by NSERC for all RCPs.

* RCPs were formerly known as Collaborative Research & Development (CRDs).

Image: OPG

Computational fluid dynamics analysis of natural convection heat transfer in volumetrically heated corium melt for CANDU reactors

Marilyn Lightstone headshot

Marilyn Lightstone, McMaster University

This research uses computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to obtain detailed information on the natural convection fluid flow and local and time-varying heat transfer rates at the vessel wall within CANDU reactors. This information will be used to assess the appropriateness of the underlying assumptions in the simplified integral codes which are currently used in the nuclear industry for beyond design basis analysis.

Under severe accident conditions, like what occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in 2011, melting of the nuclear fuel rods and the interior reactor core components can occur forming a molten corium pool and leading, potentially, to a breach of the reactor vessel.

There is a need to ensure cooling on the exterior of the vessel is sufficient to maintain vessel integrity. The completed research will be used to assess the validity of the underlying assumptions in codes such as MAAP-CANDU which are used for assessment of in-vessel retention under severe accident conditions.

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Comprehensive model of eddy current based on pressure tube to calandria tube gap measurement

Thomas Krause headshot

Thomas Krause, Royal Military College of Canada

The program investigates CANDU pressure tube (PT) hydride blister formation that can lead to cracking. In-reactor gap monitoring is performed from within the PT by an eddy current (EC) probe. EC based gap measurement is used in predictions of time-to-contact between PT and calandria tube (CT) and is important for safety and licensing of CANDU reactors.

The project seeks to generate a comprehensive model of EC measurement of PT to CT gap beginning with a two-dimensional analytical model followed by three-dimensional FEM (COMSOL) modelling to quantify the effects of essential parameters on gap measurement accuracy.

As well, the project team will assemble an experimental set-up for laboratory PT to CT gap measurement using actual transmit-receive eddy current probe technology.

Ultimately, this research aims to improve gap measurement accuracy and make recommendations for achieving improvements in accuracy within existing gap measurement systems, with the goal of providing support for inspection qualification programs.

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Investigation of the dynamic response of CANDU fuel bundle due to acoustic pressure pulsations in the HTS piping system

Atef Mohany headshot
Marwan Hassan headshot

Atef Mohany, Ontario Tech University
Marwan Hassan, University of Guelph

This project, in collaboration with UNENE-member, CANDU Owners Group (COG), investigates the effectiveness of passive acoustic damping devices on the attenuation of acoustic pressure pulsations in piping systems. As well, it seeks to numerically simulate the dynamic response of CANDU fuel bundles due to acoustic pressure pulsations. The numerical simulation of the CANDU fuel bundle is performed using INDAP (Incremental Nonlinear Dynamics Analysis Program), an in-house general purpose finite element program capable of simulating the nonlinear dynamics of nuclear and power equipment subjected to fluid excitations.

The traditional designs of passive acoustic damping devices are typically very large, making their implementation in existing facilities problematic, in many cases. This research focuses on designing and testing a series of acoustic dampers aimed at use in industrial installations.

The devices are significantly smaller than traditional designs to maximize their usefulness in industrial applications. They could be distributed throughout the piping system in order to minimize their size and be capable of damping numerous acoustic modes to accommodate changing operating conditions.

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Waste management and radionuclide monitoring

Glenn Harvel headshot

Glenn Harvel, Ontario Tech University

This research focuses on three themes: Low Energy Radionuclide Monitoring, Waste Capture and Decontamination, Waste Segregation and Decommissioning Project Management.

The approach under study is the use of a Gas-ionization type detector modified for the detection of low energy emissions such as those associated with Tritium and Fe-55. Different methods for converting tritiated heavy water into a vapour form for direct injection into a GEM detector, thus reducing the need for a much higher gain, have been studied. The results suggest either electrolysis or atomization methods should be used to maximize the amount of tritium in the vapour environment.

As well, the research considers the use of electrostatic or electrohydrodynamic forces and plasma-based techniques for the ionization and capture of radioactive species. The technique has demonstrated the proof of principle that Iodine vapour generated during decommissioning activities would be captured by electrostatic methods.

The work is still mostly in the developmental phase and it is expected, the database for decontamination selection could be used by Ontario Power Generation as a preliminary tool.

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Robotics and automation for optimal characterization for nuclear power plant decommissioning

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Carl Haas, University of Waterloo

The focus of this research project is on developing automation and robotic methods, specifically, environment characterization to aid in the deconstruction of nuclear power plants. The ultimate goal of this work is to reduce exposure to humans from decommissioning activities, which includes demolition, packaging and removal of debris and safe storage activities.

It is anticipated that the results of this study will significantly enhance the tools and the process of providing semantic model inputs regarding the facility environment to decommissioning robots, automated waste selection and packing optimization for low to intermediate waste disposal.

Nearly a third of the world’s nuclear plants are over 30 years old and a large number of these will be decommissioned in the coming decades, including the Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) Pickering Nuclear. The project aims to develop efficient methods to create as-built building information models, populate those models and advance concepts and tools used to address decommissioning-related inventory assessment and selective disassembly for optimization of demolition, disassembly and packing.

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Methodology development for volume reduction and safe storage and disposal of solid and liquid radioactive wastes and secondary wastes

Clara Wren headshot

Clara Wren, University of Western Ontario

In collaboration with Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) related research and development initiative, the project focuses on reduction of volumes of metallic wastes and immobilization of dispersive wastes in a safe and economical fashion for interim storage and permanent disposal.

OPG plans to shut down its Pickering Nuclear Plant reactors, starting in 2025, with decontamination and decommissioning to follow. These activities require interim storage and permanent disposal of non-fuel low and intermediate-level (L&ILW) radioactive waste generated from reactor operations and refurbishments.

This project explores the potential use of laser ablation technology for the removal of radioactive surface contaminants (e.g. oxide deposits) from metallic wastes and an encapsulation technology for radioactive ion exchange resin wastes, using geopolymers.

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SCC of Ni-Fe alloys and IASCC of stainless steels: Evaluation using micro-mechanical testing techniques

Suraj Persaud headshot

Suraj Persaud, Queen’s University

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Evaluation of the effect of ion exchange resin on feeder integrity

William Cook headshot

William Cook, University of New Brunswick

Investigation of irradiated spacer materials (X750 and Zr-Nb-Cu)

Zhongwen Yao headshot

Zhongwen Yao, Queen’s University

Towards an optimum membrane and membrane assembly for the filtration of heavy water containing tritiated heavy water

Mark Daymond headshot

Mark Daymond, Queen’s University

Networked drones for concrete structure, environmental and radiation surveys

Angela Schoellig headshot

Angela Schoellig, University of Toronto