TVB Associates was pleased to have a strategic role supporting McMaster University in a national proposal for a $47M project for infrastructure for neutron beams. This project, entitled “Building a Future for Canadian Neutron Scattering”, was supported by 17 universities across Canada. The Canada Foundation for Innovation awarded its contribution to the project, $14.25M, in March 2021 through its 2020 Innovation Fund competition.
Project initiation awaits decisions for matching contributions from provincial governments of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec.
“Building a Future for Canadian Neutron Scattering” is a national project that will enable research and innovation in areas such as materials for clean energy technology, materials for structural integrity of reliability-critical components of vehicles or nuclear power plants, biomaterials for understanding and combating disease, and materials for information technology.
Neutron beams are versatile and irreplaceable 21st century tools for studying materials and are needed by a Canadian research community that includes about 100 principal investigators from over 30 universities. Access to neutron beams is urgently needed following the recent closure of the Canadian Neutron Beam Centre and the expiry of Canada’s only agreement for access to a foreign neutron beam facility. Now, the McMaster Nuclear Reactor is Canada’s only major neutron source, and this project will complete its neutron beam lab by adding three neutron beamlines. To enable experiments that require high neutron brightness, the project will build partnerships with two world leading neutron beam facilities in the US.
Potential benefits of the research include technologies to reduced greenhouse gas emissions; enhanced reliability and competitiveness of Canadian nuclear power and auto parts manufacturing industries; knowledge to aid the fight against cancer, Alzheimer’s, and antibiotic resistance; and knowledge of quantum materials that could enable breakthroughs in information technology devices.
Canada’s social, environmental and economic challenges require a complete twenty-first century scientific toolkit for research and innovation in materials. Because everything is made of materials, innovation in materials underpins nearly all technology advances for national priorities, including:
The strategy identifies four key objectives that are essential to put into place the required infrastructure and governance framework to enable Canadians to use neutron beams:
Forge partnerships with high-brightness neutron sources in other countries;
Build on existing domestic capabilities, including full exploitation of the McMaster Nuclear Reactor (MNR), a medium-brightness neutron source;
Explore and invest in developing new neutron sources for the long term; and
Create a new, national governance and management framework for these activities.
The full discussion paper is available below.
Official release of the consultation draft of the national neutron strategy (prepared by TVB Associates)
The Canadian neutron beam community is aligning around an emerging strategy to rebuild Canadian capacity for materials research and development with neutron beams.
On December 15 and 16, 2020, leading scientists from across Canada gathered virtually to shape this “national neutron strategy” at a roundtable organized by the Canadian Neutron Initiative (CNI) and CIFAR, with support from the European Spallation Source and the Fedoruk Centre.
The roundtable was a culmination of extensive consultation since 2015, when it became clear that Canada’s only neutron source, the NRU reactor, would close permanently in 2018, jeopardizing the future for research with neutron beams by Canadians. Ideas and feedback were invited on key elements of the strategy, including the needed infrastructure and associated programs, domestic and foreign, spanning the near-term to the long-term.
Neutron beams are irreplaceable tools to generate knowledge and advance materials for 21st century challenges such as ensuring a clean and sustainable environment, and protecting the health and safety of our communities. (See http://cins.ca/discover/.)
The national neutron strategy encompasses infrastructure and a governance framework enabling Canadians to address these challenges with world-class tools. Roundtable participants were optimistic about prospects for partnership with foreign neutron facilities, for developing the neutron beam lab at the McMaster Nuclear Reactor, and for exploring our options for neutron sources, each of which are elements of the strategy.
The meeting confirmed that there is broad support for the proposed national neutron strategy and specifically for the creation of a national coordinating organization, Neutrons Canada, which would be charged with governing and managing the strategy’s major activities as a coherent program.
Official report from the roundtable on a national neutron strategy (prepared by TVB Associates)
TVB Associates is pleased to have provided strategic support to the Canadian Neutron Initiative (CNI) working group, comprised of university executives. The CNI seeks to enable research with neutron beams to continue following the 2018 closure of Canada’s primary neutron source, the NRU reactor, in Chalk River.
On 2020 January 29, VPs of Research or their designates from 16 universities met in Ottawa to discuss a proposed new pan-Canadian, university-led framework to manage Canada’s infrastructure, international partnerships, projects, and programs for materials research with neutron beams. The gathering discussed the creation of “Neutrons Canada” as a central feature of the new framework.
“The roundtable meeting of university executives from 16 institutions across Canada was an historic moment, topping off five years of work to establish a new, pan-Canadian, university-led framework to govern, manage, and represent Canada’s programme and capacity for materials research with neutron beams.”
Dr. Karen Chad, Vice-President of Research, University of Saskatchewan and Chair of the CNI working group.
The university executive participants formed a consensus around three propositions:
Canada should maintain its leadership role in materials research with neutron beams;
Canadian universities need to establish a pan-Canadian, university-led framework to govern, manage, and represent Canada’s program for materials research with neutron beams; and
Canadian university Vice-Presidents of Research should devote their own time and attention to help shape this new framework and to ensure ongoing engagement of their universities as Institutional Members.
The CNI working group will invite additional university executives to join the current group and act as a steering committee for the establishment of Neutrons Canada.
Official report on the roundtable meeting towards the establishment of “Neutrons Canada” (prepared by TVB Associates)