Research, education will continue thanks to safe refuelling of RMC’s SLOWPOKE-2 Reactor

Safely captured close-up of the core of the nuclear reactor located in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the RMC. Photo by Sailor First Class Lisa Sheppard

The nuclear reactor operated by the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) has provided a Centre of Excellence on nuclear matters to the whole of government, the Canadian Air Force, and the Department of National Defense (DND) to meet related operational, educational and research needs since 1985.

Between August 16 and September 15, 2021, in coordination with Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), a refuelling was conducted for RMC’s Safe LOW-POwer Kritical Experiment (SLOWPOKE) reactor. Uniquely located on the RMC campus in Kingston, it is one of only two research reactors of its type in Canada providing world-class opportunities in research and education for students and staff alike, according to a release from the military institution.

“This refuelling was key to facility operations here at the Royal Military College of Canada. With its safe and successful completion we can continue our research and education for the defence community in Canada,” said Dr. Pavel Samuleev, Director SLOWPOKE-2 Facility, Royal Military College of Canada.

According to the college, the reactor and associated laboratory equipment are used for the education of undergraduate and postgraduate students, for research and analytical applications, and for training and support of Canadian Armed Forces personnel. Specific capabilities include neutron activation analysis, neutron radioscopy and tomography, gamma spectroscopy, delayed neutron counting and liquid scintillation counting.

“As part of this project, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ employed a team skilled in reactor physics and fuels, environmental remediation measures, and security and radiation protection to safely and successfully remove the old reactor core and commission the reactor with a newly fabricated core, which was manufactured at Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ Chalk River campus. The spent core was transferred to a licensed nuclear waste management facility,” RMC stated.

The college said that this project was completed in compliance with all relevant regulatory agencies, including the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, who regulate the use of nuclear energy and materials to protect health, safety, security and the environment; to implement Canada’s international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy; and to disseminate objective scientific, technical and regulatory information to the public.

Royal Military College Commandant Commodore Josee Kurtz and Officer Cadet Noble holding the key to restart the reactor after the refuelling was completed. RMC Principal, Dr. H.J. (Harry) Kowal, can be seen photobombing the pair. Photo by Sailor First Class Lisa Sheppard.

“The safe and successful refuelling of the SLOWPOKE-2 Research Reactor ensures key research and education, that is possible only because of this facility, can continue at the Royal Military College of Canada for the next 30 years,” said Commodore M.T.J. (Josée) Kurtz, Commandant Royal Military College of Canada.

Learn more about the SLOWPOKE-2 facility on the RMC campus on the RMC website.

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