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Canada's Nuclear Future

McMaster Is Leading the Way in Nuclear Energy Innovations

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McMaster University – home to Canada’s most powerful nuclear research reactor – is advancing research in small modular reactor (SMR) design, deployment and safety. Photo Credit: McMaster University
McMaster University Nuclear header image
Sponsored by:
McMaster University – home to Canada’s most powerful nuclear research reactor – is advancing research in small modular reactor (SMR) design, deployment and safety. Photo Credit: McMaster University
Dave Tucker-McMaster University Nuclear

Dave Tucker

Assistant Vice-President, Nuclear at McMaster University

McMaster University’s pioneering nuclear research and small modular reactor innovations will help Canada meet its net-zero target.


Canada has a history of innovation in the nuclear space, and McMaster University ranks high among the nation’s key leaders. Located in Hamilton, Ont., and home to a unique suite of world-class nuclear research facilities, McMaster is recognized as the go-to place for nuclear research, training, technology and innovation.

As the country looks toward a low-carbon future, McMaster’s nuclear experts are driving research on small modular reactors – a new class of nuclear reactor with the potential to change the future of clean energy production in Canada and around the world.

Expanding the potential of nuclear reactor technology

Small modular reactors (SMRs) are nuclear fission reactors. Smaller in size and power capacity than traditional nuclear power reactors, their components are pre-manufactured and then installed on-site. SMRs are ideal for installation in remote locations and are more cost- and time-effective than custom-building a nuclear reactor for a particular location.

Nuclear Innovation

“The significant benefit of SMRs is that they can be installed more quickly and in more flexible ways – and with lower capital investment and shorter timelines for construction, SMRs will be especially useful in areas where a full-scale grid-sized nuclear reactor isn’t practical,” says Dave Tucker, McMaster University’s Assistant Vice-President, Nuclear.

SMRs are also well-positioned to help Canada achieve its net-zero by 2050 goal and have been recognized as such in the federal government’s SMR Action Plan.

Spearheading innovative research  

Home to the McMaster Nuclear Reactor for six decades, McMaster’s expertise in reactor operations and safety makes the university well-equipped to conduct SMR research.

“We have a long and illustrious reputation in nuclear and our contributions have generated significant research, health and economic benefits for society,” says Tucker, noting discoveries in medicine, clean energy, nuclear safety, materials and environmental science.

The university is currently conducting a feasibility study to explore the potential of establishing an SMR on- or off-campus.

In partnership with Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation and Global First Power – and in consultation with community, business, and government stakeholders, including Indigenous communities and municipal councils – the study builds on McMaster’s expertise in SMR technology validation, nuclear safety, waste reduction, nuclear security and site monitoring, and integrated urban energy systems.

“It’s our vision to establish a micro-community of the future with an SMR at the heart of a renewable energy grid – using state-of-the-art McMaster technology to capture every drop of usable energy to support livable spaces, food security, water purification, recreation and industry,” says Tucker.

“The SMR will provide an opportunity for communities and industries to see the technology at work and help them make decisions about their own energy future.”

Building a nuclear-friendly future

Teams of researchers, including faculty and students from across all disciplines, are taking a holistic approach to investigate the environmental, economic and social impacts of site selection.

David Novog, engineering physics professor and expert in nuclear safety, is leading McMaster’s Small Modular Advanced Reactor Training Program, designed to train the next generation of leaders in SMR research, safety and deployment.  

Besides showing Canada how it can be done and providing a pattern that can be repeated, McMaster’s potential future SMR could also help power its campus.

“As Canada’s nuclear university, McMaster has an important role to play in helping our province and country achieve net zero. This nuclear technology has the potential to improve access to clean, reliable energy in communities across the country.” 


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