Nuclear energy technology is a hallmark of the world’s leading industrial nations. Canada has developed a successful nuclear program based on the unique heavy water natural uranium reactor system (known as CANDU), which uses pressurized fuel channels instead of a pressure vessel, natural instead of enriched uranium and heavy water as coolant/moderator instead of light water found in pressurized water reactor designs. The refueling system is also unique compared to pressurized water reactors because CANDU reactors can be refueled at full power.
The Federal government has funded nuclear research and development for over 50 years. The Government’s support has enabled Canada to develop its own nuclear power technology and other related technologies.
As a result, Canada has developed a world-class indigenous technology and various spin-off nuclear technologies which have made a major contribution to our economy and society over and above energy benefits. The main achievement of the Government’s R&D efforts is the CANDU reactor system.
In addition to providing energy, nuclear technology produces benefits through other applications, including medical isotopes which are used in health diagnostics and treatment. Canadian companies are important global suppliers of medical isotopes. Canada also supplies 75% of the world’s cobalt-60 used to sterilize 45% of the world’s single-use medical supplies.
Canada’s nuclear R&D program has and continues to yield significant social, economic and industrial returns through the production of environmentally friendly and cost-effective electricity and through important contributions in medicine, agriculture, manufacturing and resource utilization. It has also made possible world-class contributions over the years by Canadian scientists to fundamental science, particularly in the fields of physics and material science.