Darlington Nuclear Generating Station
One of the unfortunate claims to fame for the Darlington CANDU facility was the cost overruns – fortunately, this LEGO microscale version appears to have avoided those issues.

ToroLUG‘s Jeff ‘dr_spock_888‘ Lee is back at it again, with a pair of nuclear themed builds. The CANDU reactors are a Canadian based nuclear power generation technology that has been implemented all around the world, providing nuclear power to South Korea, Romania, China, and Argentina, amongst other nations.

Nuclear Reactor Transport
CANDU nuclear reactor on Self-Propelled Modular Transporter.

Canada’s history with pioneering nuclear technology dates back to the 1940s, with an equally fun named research-based reactor under the name of ZEEP, followed by two more experimental designs named NRX and NRU. These reactors used heavy water as a coolant and unenriched uranium in order to save on the costly uranium enrichment process. These were some of the first heavy water cooled reactors in the world, and made great scientific strides in using unenriched uranium as an energy source, and led to the first CANDU reactor – the Nuclear Power Demonstartion, or NPD – in Rolphton, Ontario.

Intended as a proof-of-concept, the NPD reactor ran for 25 years, from 1962 to 1987, and provided a relatively meager 22 MWe (megawatt electrical units). However, the second CANDU reactor was able to achieve 10 times that level of power, and the reactors in the Darlington generator pictured above are able to generate roughly 880 MWe – or enough power for 2 million people, and represents about 20 percent of the province of Ontario’s power. Another Ontario CANDU site, the Bruce Nuclear Generation Station located on the Eastern shore of Lake Huron, is the world’s largest nuclear power generator by a number of measures – most number of total reactors; most number of operational reactors; and total operational output.

The CANDU saw early success in the 1970s because of its modularity – at a time where many emerging markets were looking to access clean power but did not have an industrial base to develop their own generators, the CANDU generators were marketed internationally as an ideal solution.  Although much of the CANDU design was licensed privately in the early 2000s, CANDU reactor technology continues to develop to this day, and as recent as 2016, there were plans announced to refurbish the Darlington plant and extend its lifetime by another 30 years, thus ensuring the continued legacy of CANDU.

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