Canadian Neutron Initiative Roundtable:  Towards a National Neutron Strategy
Virtual Meeting: Please register by November 30, 2020.
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Canadian Neutron Initiative Roundtable: Towards a National Neutron Strategy 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020 & Wednesday, December 16, 2020

12:30 to 15:40 Eastern Time, both days

Zoom meeting link to follow




A gathering of leading scientists from universities and industry, government agencies, and international facilities to shape a national neutron strategy to rebuild Canadian capacity for materials research with neutron beams. Ideas and feedback will be sought on key elements of the strategy, including the needed infrastructure and associated programs, domestic and foreign, on multiple time scales.

A video conferencing link and dial-in information will be shared with all participants closer to the meeting date. 


Important Dates & Times

  • Day 1: Tuesday, December 15, 2020 from 12:30 to 15:40 Eastern Time
  • Day 2: Wednesday, December 16, 2020 from 12:30 to 15:40 Eastern Time


Why is a new national neutron strategy needed?

Canada’s challenges to protect the health and safety of our communities, ensure a clean and sustainable environment, and to provide high quality, meaningful employment requires a complete twenty-first century scientific toolkit —including neutron beams—for developing materials that underpin technology solutions. Neutron beams are versatile and irreplaceable tools for materials research, and Canadians have led in this field, applying them to make major socio-economic impacts in these priority areas for several decades. The impacts range from saving hundreds of millions of dollars by reducing downtimes of Canada’s fleet of nuclear power stations, to bolstering Canada’s scientific reputation through Nobel Prize-winning science.

Canada lost access to these irreplaceable tools in 2018, with the closure of the NRU reactor in Chalk River. In parallel, Canada lost its only arrangement for access to a foreign neutron source. Without access to neutron beams, research programs that require these tools cannot continue, and Canada’s leadership position is eroding. Further, Canada and the world has changed since Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL) and the National Research Council (NRC) took responsibility for providing neutron beams as a tool for national use. The range of applications for neutron beams has greatly expanded, and many industries—not just nuclear—benefit from their insights. World-leading neutron sources are increasingly challenging to build, and Europe and the US are grappling with the challenge to provide sufficient access. Multinational frameworks have emerged in Europe to encourage cooperation on neutron sources. At home, restructuring of AECL and NRC has led to the breakdown of Canada’s old framework, leaving the provision of neutron beam infrastructure open to the initiative of others.


Canadian universities are leading the way to address this challenge

The Canadian Neutron Initiative (CNI), a working group of university executives, has laid a foundation for strategic planning for the future of this research field and has gathered support from 23 institutions across the country. It has identified four key objectives for a national neutron strategy to rebuild Canadian capacity for materials research with neutron beams:

  1. Building on existing domestic capabilities, including full exploitation of the McMaster Nuclear Reactor (MNR), a medium-brightness neutron source;

  2. Forging partnerships with high-brightness neutron sources in other countries;

  3. Exploring investment in new domestic neutron sources for the long term; and

  4. Creating a new, national governance and management framework for these activities.

The CNI working group has been an executive-level forum for coordinating activities related to each of these objectives and integrating them into a cohesive national neutron strategy.

This roundtable is an essential consultative process to engage a cross-section of stakeholders. Ideas and feedback will be sought on key elements of the strategy, to shape the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of a national program for the coming decades.