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By Charles Rhodes, P.Eng., Ph.D.

File: CNL 24-01-12

To: smr@cnl.ca
Joe McBreatry, President & CEO, CNL
Bill Walker, President & CEO, OCNI
Fred Dermarkar, President & CEO, AECL

Charles Rhodes, Chief Engineer, Xylene Power Ltd., FNR Power Ltd.

Re: Symposium on Current and Future Opportunities for Canada's Nuclear Renaissance
January 30, 2024, Chalk River Laboratories

Dear Sirs:
Thank you for the invitation to the above mentioned symposium.

Unfortunately the present OVERVIEW agenda for the symposium does not address the real nuclear renaissance problems and hence will not lead to a solution to these problems.

Please allow me to summarize the main issues;
1) The nuclear renaissance is driven by the need for sustainable and dependable clean power for displacement of fossil fuels;
2) Presently the world thermal load met by fossil fuels is about 21,000 GWt. The Canadian thermal load is about 400 GWt.
3) Thermal neutron reactors that rely on the rare uranium isotope U-235 cannot sustainably displace fossil fuels due to insufficient abundance of economically recoverable U-235. During the last three years the price of natural uranium has increased about four fold. China and other countries are seeking to acquire sufficient natural uranium ore to fuel their light water reactors for the next century. Various countries are contemplating tripling of their thermal neutron nuclear power capacity.
4) Fast Neutron Reactors (FNRs) can provide sustainable clean energy by conversion of the abundant uranium isotope U-238 into TRU (about half of which is Pu-239) and by fissioning the TRU.
5) The rate of FNR power production is proportional to the TRU inventory;
6) In the near term the main source of TRU in Canada is reprocessing of used CANDU fuel, which involves two major steps:
a) Concentration of used CANDU fuel by selective extraction of uranium using a recrystalization cascade;
b) Pyroprocessing of the concentrates to form FNR core fuel (20% TRU, 70% U-238, 10% Zr);
7) There is opportunity for producing more TRU using an apparatus similar to the Intense Neutron Generator (ING) which was designed by AECL during the early 1960s.
8) The government of Canada should produce and reprocess FNR core fuel for use by both the provincial electricity utilities and by major industries;
9) New thermal neutron reactors should be of the CANDU type (heavy water cooling and heavy water moderation) because these reactors are 2X more natural uranium fuel efficient and 4X more TRU production efficient than are Light Water Reactors (LWRs).
10) All intentional consumption of TRU in LWRs should be stopped.(eg MOX fuel)
11) All burial of TRU by the NWMO and analogous foreign agencies should be stopped.
12) Construction of new LWRs is foolish due to both their poor usage of natural uranium and their poor TRU production.
13) Production of FNR core fuel requires suitably fitted hot cells. In this respect CNL is believed to have the only suitable hot cell facilities in Canada. CNL needs to be fully funded for this work.
14) It is impossible for either the provinces or major industries to finance FNRs without there first being a certain Canadian source of FNR core fuel. Hence every year that this FNR fuel sourcing matter is kicked down the road is another year during which it will be physically impossible to sustainably meet CO2 emission reduction goals. Regardless of what claims governments make the reality is that the law of conservation of energy applies. Fossil fuels cannot be displaced by nuclear power capacity that does not yet exist.
15) The federal government policies are not founded in rational science. The NWMO is still planning on burying used CANDU fuel when that fuel contains the only TRU that Canada can quickly and inexpensively access.
16) In early 2023 our companies, in concert with CNL, made a basic proposal to commence work on used CANDU fuel concentration. The federal government refused to fund any part of that work.
17) At this time the only source FNR core fuel is Russia, which will likely be considered politically unreliable for decades to come.
18) Most of the aforementioned issues have been obvious to technically informed persons for over a decade. I personally raised most these issues at the Joint Review Panel in 2012 – 2013.
19) The lack of attention to these issues by the Canadian federal government is an indication of deeply entrenched corruption and technical incompetence.
20) Based on a report submitted to the Ontario government circa 2015 there may still be analogous problems within CNL staff.
21) I frankly do not see any viable solution to these problems that does not involve termination of existing senior federal government staff, especially at the NWMO and Nuclear Energy Division of Natural Resources Canada.
22) Unless you three gentlemen as CEOs of CNL, OCNI and AECL are prepared to act together to effect the necessary governmental personnel changes, I see no viable way forward for nuclear power to sustainably displace fossil fuels in Canada.
23) If I can be of further assistance with respect to any of the aforementioned matters, please feel free to contact me. Further details are available at www.xylenepower.com
24) With respect to the January 30, 2024 symposium it is very late to be making major changes in the agenda to take into account the issues that I have raised herein. Should such agenda changes be seriously contemplated or should the symposium be rescheduled, please advise me ASAP.
25) The most basic message to symposium attendees is that thermal neutron reactors cannot sustainably prevent further climate change. Only FNRs can do that, and until that issue is firmly grasped there can be no progress.

Best Regards,
Charles Rhodes, B.Sc., M.A.Sc., Ph.D., P.Eng.(50 years)
Xylene Power Ltd.
FNR Power Ltd.

This web page last updated January 14, 2024

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