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Canada's Nuclear Future

Grants and Research Galore: How Waterloo Is Innovating in Nuclear

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Sponsored by:

Dr. Charmaine Dean

Vice-President, Research and International, University of Waterloo

Dr. Claudio Cañizares

Professor & Executive Director, Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy

The University of Waterloo is becoming a shining star in the nuclear space, with award-winning research initiatives underway.

Big things are happening at the University of Waterloo. The university, which is currently number one in Canada for experiential learning and employer-student connections, continually spurs innovation to solve problems on a global scale. One of the major ways it’s doing so is through its growing presence and innovation in the nuclear sector.


A growing presence in nuclear

“The University of Waterloo has been a constant presence in the nuclear sector for close to two decades, but our growing research programs related to small modular reactors (SMRs) represent a significant new chapter in research at the university,” says Charmaine Dean, Vice-President of Research and International at the University of Waterloo.

The Ontario government has ramped up investment in nuclear energy production due to the intense energy needs of our communities, and the university has kept pace with complementary research. “We’re actively working with industry and government partners to create a more sustainable future,” says Dean. Indeed, collaboration and partnership underpin the university’s successful approach. “The University of Waterloo has a growing number of important industry partners including Canadian Nuclear Laboratories,” says Claudio Cañizares, a professor and Executive Director of the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE). “Working with industry is our hallmark and we pride ourselves on creating real-world solutions.”

Successful grants

Also representative of the University of Waterloo’s commitment to advancing the technology and management of SMRs, which are well-regarded as promising clean nuclear energy infrastructures, are the school’s four recently received Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) grants. The grants award over $1.3 million in federal funding to University of Waterloo researchers, in support of their SMR research.

“SMRs represent a new approach to nuclear technology,” says Cañizares. “They’re expected to be easier and cheaper to deploy, operate, and maintain than current nuclear technology and will be a growing source of energy generation in Ontario as we move toward a net-zero future.”

“These four projects will cover a broad spectrum of SMR research including alloy material science, material surveillance, nuclear safety assessment, and human factor challenges of SMR operators,” says Dean. “They’re prime exemplars of how we aspire to realize our Waterloo at 100 Strategic Vision, which places strong emphasis on understanding, identifying, and mobilizing sustainable solutions for the future of humanity and our planet.”

Exemplary research expertise   

Already, the University of Waterloo’s research expertise is shining in the nuclear space.

“Our growing sector presence was recognized in 2021 when Mahesh Pandey, our University Network of Excellence in Nuclear Engineering Industrial Research Chair, was honoured with the Harold A. Smith Outstanding Contribution Award at an event staged by the Canadian Nuclear Society and the Canadian Nuclear Association,” says Cañizares. An internationally recognized researcher in the field of risk management and life cycle methods, Pandey was celebrated for significant contributions to reliability analysis and probabilistic methodologies for nuclear reactor component behaviour.

“In addition to our recent work on SMRs, we are very active in public policy and equipment safety,” says Cañizares.  “University of Waterloo researchers have been directly addressing the nuclear industry’s need to improve the life-cycle management of nuclear power plant infrastructures,” adds Dean. Many of the university’s award-winning projects focus on reliability analysis and probabilistic methodologies for nuclear reactor component behaviour, leading to significant strides in equipment safety.

The future of nuclear in Canada is bright, and the University of Waterloo is helping lead the way to its safe and sustainable use.

Learn more at uwaterloo.ca.

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