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AtkinsRéalis, AECL and CNL Team Up to Bolster Canada’s Strategic Heavy Water Supply in support of CANDU technology

Press Release

Montreal: May 13, 2024 – Candu Energy Inc., an AtkinsRéalis company [SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.] (TSX: ATRL), has signed a memorandum of understanding (“MOU”) with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (“AECL”), a federal Crown corporation, and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (“CNL”), which manages and operates Canada’s premier nuclear science and technology organization for AECL, to cooperate on the upgrading and production of heavy water for the commissioning and operation of new CANDU® nuclear reactors in Canada.

“This collaboration among important stakeholders in the Canadian nuclear sector sets the stage for Canada to lead the global heavy water market, solidifying its role as a key player in the energy transition,” commented Ian L. Edwards, President and Chief Executive Officer, AtkinsRéalis. “With CANDU reactors operating across four continents, a global nuclear new build market with expected demand in excess of 1,000 new reactors, a strong CANDU reactor refurbishment market, and the introduction of the new CANDU® MONARK™ 1,000 MW reactor in addition to the existing Enhanced CANDU 6®, this memorandum of understanding could not have come at a better time.”

The MOU brings together AtkinsRéalis’ nuclear and industrial capabilities in Canada as the licensee of CANDU technology, as well as AECL, owners of CANDU intellectual property (IP) and other heavy water production technologies, and CNL, a world leader in the industry with extensive experience in heavy water technologies. The objective is to evaluate options and select cost efficient, environmentally responsible, and viable heavy-water production technologies, which could include the establishment of industrial scale heavy-water production facilities to support the deployment of a new fleet of CANDU reactors.

Heavy water is used as a moderator and coolant in CANDU reactors. It’s a differentiating factor in nuclear reactor design that not only allows CANDU technology to be incredibly safe, but also allows the reactor to utilize unenriched uranium as its fuel source; something no other modern nuclear reactor can do. However, heavy water has not been produced in Canada for over 25 years, and there are currently no large industrial scale heavy water production capabilities in the Western world that will meet the supply needed for a new fleet of CANDU reactors. This is especially true as Canada has ambitious nuclear build out plans, with the country being one of many to have committed to tripling nuclear output by 2050 and the province of Ontario alone having an estimated future need for 18 GW of new nuclear power by 20502.

“I am pleased that AECL, CNL and AtkinsRéalis are collaborating and working together to advance heavy water production for CANDU reactor technology. CANDU technology is uniquely positioned to contribute to important national objectives such as decarbonization, energy security, economic growth and maintaining Canada’s Tier-1 nuclear nation status,” said Fred Dermarkar, President & Chief Executive Officer of AECL.

“As the owner of CANDU IP licensed to Candu Energy Inc. and owner of Canada’s national nuclear laboratory at Chalk River, Ontario, managed and operated by CNL, AECL is committed to seeing its CANDU technology and the unique capability of its national laboratory leveraged for the benefit of Canadians,” commented Grant Gardiner, EVP, Business Strategy & Development, AECL. “We believe establishing a secure, domestic and economically viable supply of heavy water is vital to the continuing success of CANDU technology and are proud of the unique capability that our national laboratory brings to this effort.”

“The deployment of large-scale nuclear power in Canada is an enormous undertaking, and will require extensive alignment and coordination between organizations, industries, public officials and regulators from across the country,” commented Jack Craig Jr., President & Chief Executive Officer at CNL. “Heavy water is one key piece of the larger puzzle, and CNL is working hard to play a leadership role in this process, ensuring that the broader industry is working towards a shared vision, and that the necessary inventory and production capabilities are in place to supply these reactors. CNL looks forward to leveraging our world-leading expertise, experience and CNL-managed, AECL-owned IP in heavy water production and upgrading to support the deployment of new CANDU reactors in Canada with AtkinsRéalis. By doing so, we will strive to make Canada the leader in the global heavy water market.”

“CANDU technology, as Canada’s only domestically-developed large-scale nuclear technology, is a source of national pride,” said Joe St. Julian, President, Nuclear, AtkinsRéalis. “We are honoured to continue stewarding and enhancing its reputation as a leading global nuclear technology. A reliable supply of heavy water will also safeguard the supply of the global isotope market with cancer-fighting nuclear medicine, as CANDU reactors— with Ontario’s supplying 50% of the world’s supply of Cobalt 603 — are the only commercial scale reactors that can produce such medical isotopes while also producing power at the same time.”

About AtkinsRéalis

Created by the integration of long-standing organizations dating back to 1911, AtkinsRéalis is a world-leading professional services and project management company dedicated to engineering a better future for our planet and its people. We create sustainable solutions that connect people, data and technology to transform the world’s infrastructure and energy systems. We deploy global capabilities locally to our clients and deliver unique end-to-end services across the whole life cycle of an asset including consulting, advisory & environmental services, intelligent networks & cybersecurity, design & engineering, procurement, project & construction management, operations & maintenance, decommissioning and capital. The breadth and depth of our capabilities are delivered to clients in key strategic sectors such as Engineering Services, Nuclear, Operations & Maintenance and Capital. News and information are available at or follow us on LinkedIn.

About AtkinsRéalis’ Nuclear Business

AtkinsRéalis has over 70 years of global nuclear expertise, delivering nuclear technology products and full-service solutions to nuclear utilities around the world. AtkinsRéalis is the steward of CANDU® nuclear technology, operating on four continents, and provides advisory and engineering services to other nuclear developers. With an innovative technology portfolio, including access to over 500 patented solutions, AtkinsRéalis solves technically complex challenges across the whole nuclear lifecycle from design and new build through asset management and from life extension and late life management through decommissioning and waste management. AtkinsRéalis operates and manages government nuclear research sites, transforming ageing infrastructure and safely managing legacy nuclear waste. AtkinsRéalis is also involved in developing medical radioisotopes for cancer research through its partnership with TerraPower. Learn more on our Nuclear market page.

About Atomic Energy of Canada Limited

Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) is a federal Crown corporation with a mandate to drive nuclear opportunities for Canada. Working through a government-owned / contractor-operated (GoCo) model that is executed by its contractor, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, AECL enables nuclear science and technology through its Chalk River Laboratories, Canada’s largest research complex, and by engaging with academia and private industry to advance nuclear innovation. It is committed to advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. It also manages the Government of Canada’s radioactive waste responsibilities. AECL continues to own the intellectual property for the CANDU® reactor technology and is accountable for deriving optimal benefit from this technology for Canada.  Read more on AECL at

About CNL

As Canada’s premier nuclear science and technology laboratory and working under the direction of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), CNL is a world leader in the development of innovative nuclear science and technology products and services. Guided by an ambitious corporate strategy known as Vision 2030, CNL fulfills three strategic priorities of national importance – restoring and protecting the environment, advancing clean energy technologies, and contributing to the health of Canadians.

By leveraging the assets owned by AECL, CNL also serves as the nexus between government, the nuclear industry, the broader private sector and the academic community. CNL works in collaboration with these sectors to advance innovative Canadian products and services towards real-world use, including carbon-free energy, cancer treatments and other therapies, non-proliferation technologies and waste management solutions.

To learn more about CNL, please visit



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