Speaker sees "Second Golden Era" for AECL Researchby Jeremy Whitlock
The Canadian Nuclear Society presented David Torgerson, Senior VP of Technology for AECL, speaking on "R&D at AECL: The Next Ten Years".
Dr. Torgerson is a fellow of the Canadian Nuclear Society and the Chemical Institute of Canada, and a recipient of the Canadian Nuclear Association's W.B. Lewis Medal. He joined AECL as a nuclear chemist in 1976, eventually holding management positions in reactor chemistry, reactor safety, fuel waste management, reactor development, and overall CANDU R&D.
In addition to CANDU technology and services, Dr. Torgerson is currently responsible for AECL's own nuclear facilities, plus its waste management and decommissioning activities.
Dr. Torgerson began on Thursday evening by describing the environment in which future energy technologies will compete. The close coupling of electricity and wealth will lead to increasing global electricity use, with a concomitant increase in greenhouse-gas production. The Kyoto agreement, even if fully implemented, can only delay the doubling of greenhouse-gas production by a decade or so.
Enter hydrogen fuel cells and nuclear power: an environmentally friendly pairing of technology with long-term resource stability. Dr. Torgerson claims that fifteen large CANDU reactors could supply enough hydrogen to fuel all of the automobiles in Canada, without the emission of greenhouse gases.
Alternatively, nuclear power is uniquely suited to the energy needs of mining Canada's Athabasca Oil Sands, which contain more oil than Saudi Arabia. Ninety per cent of this oil is unreachable by conventional means, but most of it can be extracted using steam supplied by a stable, low-cost, clean, abundant power source like a CANDU reactor.
Dr. Torgerson then explained, with infectious enthusiasm, how AECL is poised to thrive in this future environment. He took the audience on a short tour of some of AECL's most promising new technologies: