Laurentis is helping meet global demands by increasing He-3 production
In a world where raw materials and supplies are under tension, Helium-3 (He-3), a rare isotope used in quantum computing, neutron research, border security and medical imaging, is no exception. Laurentis Energy Partners is responding by stepping up its He-3 production to help meet global demands.
As a stable (non-radioactive) and inert gas, Laurentis extracts the high purity He-3 from tritium stored at Ontario Power Generation’s Darlington Nuclear Generating Station, using a custom-designed tool.
In Q4 2021, Laurentis announced both the production of He-3 and a long-term agreement with Air Liquide for its distribution. Laurentis is now able to adjust its planned He-3 production to support industries impacted by global supply shortages.
“We were very pleased with our 2021 production performance which gives us the confidence to adjust our 2022 He-3 forecast,” said Mike Lefebvre, Operations Manager at Laurentis Energy Partners. “The teams supporting this project have really rallied together to prioritize resources and accommodate the expected increase in demand.”
“The teams supporting this project have really rallied together to prioritize resources and accommodate the expected increase in demand.”
Mike Lefebvre, Laurentis Energy Partners Operations Manager
Laurentis provides a civilian, non-military source of He-3.
He-3 has a wide range of applications:
As a medical isotope, He-3 is a non-toxic inhalant used to produce highly detailed Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of airways in the lung.
In border security, it is used in portal monitors to detect radioactive materials.
In neutron research, it is used in colliders to study the shadow world of anti-matter, one of the great mysteries of the universe.
In quantum computing, He-3 is used to reach near-absolute-zero temperatures, which reduces noise or interference in calculations; it is similarly used as a super-coolant in cryogenics.
As an innovator and leader in the clean-energy industry, Laurentis Energy Partners is proud to employ many of the best people in the sector, working together to promote safety, efficiency, integrity and diversity.
Laurentis takes pride in embracing diversity in its broadest sense – making it an integral part of our business practice and an area that we commit to celebrate and continuously advance.
As part of that commitment, Laurentis has partnered with Career Edge, a proven paid internship program that eliminates barriers to employment and gives job seekers the chance to break into the workforce and launch meaningful careers. Career Edge connects companies with diverse, qualified talent, to help foster an inclusive workplace culture.
“At Career Edge, we focus on four distinct candidate segments: new graduates, people with self-declared disabilities, skilled newcomers arriving or who have recently immigrated to Canada, and Canadian Armed Force members and veterans”
Jeff Lazenby, Executive Director at Career Edge
“Through our program, we break the ‘no experience, no job’ cycle, and we wouldn’t be able to do so without employers like Laurentis that value diversity and help to develop and foster tomorrow’s leaders,” explained Lazenby.
Since partnering with Career Edge in 2020, Laurentis has hired eight employees through its internship programs, including in Human Resources, Quality Assurance, Information Technology and Finance. Three of those employees were then directly hired into Laurentis.
“I’m proud to work with an organization so committed to providing an inclusive culture where everyone, regardless of differences, can connect, belong, and realize their full potential,” said Keith Skrepnek, Director of Business Administration Services at Laurentis.
“Partnering with and leveraging the programs provided by Career Edge is just one of the many ways that Laurentis demonstrates its commitment to build a diverse, healthy and engaged workforce,” Skrepnek said.
Interested in joining the Laurentis team? If so, click here to view current job openings. And, to learn more about Career Edge, click here to visit their website.
Laurentis’s research initiative in Hamilton granted first NSRD licence by the CNSC
Laurentis has successfully been granted its first Nuclear Substance Radiation Devices (NSRD) licence by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) for its Clean Energy Materials Sorting and Recycling (CMSR) Research Initiative in Hamilton, Ontario. The license was achieved in one year, from concept to startup and operation.
A joint research project between Laurentis Energy Partners and McMaster University, the Hamilton CMSR is making important strides toward advancing research and development in nuclear-energy innovations and supporting environmental solutions across the nuclear industry. The facility achieves this by exploring new techniques to process low-level nuclear byproducts.
An NSRD licence allows the possession, use, transfer, and storage of nuclear substances, as outlined and licenced by the CNSC. Prior to being granted its own licence for the facility, Laurentis was operating under licences held by McMaster and permits approved by the University’s Health Physics Advisory Committee.
As a world leader in nuclear research, McMaster was uniquely positioned to apply its experience and robust Radiation Safety Program to support this collaborative research endeavor, according to McMaster’s Health Physics Director, Josip Zic.
“Laurentis has demonstrated exemplary safety culture in their approach to this work and developed a team of highly trained individuals that are well positioned to develop innovative techniques to process low-level nuclear byproducts and provide a hands-on learning experience for students supporting this project,” said Zic.
“The Laurentis NSRD licence is a testament to the quality of work, commitment to safety and the continued compliance to all regulations and protocols that is demonstrated day-in and day-out at the CMSR facility,” said Daniel Orr, CMSR Site Manager. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without the expertise and foundation laid by McMaster or the performance and nuclear professionalism displayed by all CMSR staff.”
In mid-January 2022, the permits for the facility are expected to be officially transferred from McMaster to Laurentis, enabling the project to operate under its own NSRD and Laurentis to expand its research and capabilities as a leader in sustainable solutions for the nuclear industry.
“This is an important milestone for Laurentis as it’s not only our first CNSC licence, allowing the CMSR facility to have its own nuclear site governance, but it was granted roughly one year ahead of time,” said Imtiaz Malek, Laurentis Regulatory Affairs. “If that doesn’t speak to the level of excellence and demonstrated proficiency of the staff at the CMSR facility, I’m not sure what does.”
Though the team is proud of their processing targets and volume reduction rates to-date, CMSR Operations Manager, Erik Rogerson, outlined the importance of the research and development work at the laboratory and the necessity to progress towards sustainable solutions for nuclear plant operation, refurbishment and decommissioning. “What we have in mind will change the past, present and future of nuclear sustainability,” said Rogerson. “We’ve only just gotten started.”
For more information on the Hamilton CMSR research initiative, click here.
OPG and Laurentis Executive Leadership Team receive a tour of the Hamilton CMSR by Site Manager, Daniel Orr.
Laurentis develops new sorting facility for OPG in Kincardine
Laurentis Energy Partners, in partnership with Dancor Construction Ltd. as the contractor, plans to develop a new nuclear-materials sorting facility in Kincardine, Ontario, near the Bruce nuclear station for Ontario Power Generation (OPG).
The facility will be known as Western Clean-Energy Sorting and Recycling (WCSR). Its purpose is to sort low-level radioactive materials, such as used worker garments, small tools, mops and rags, to reduce volumes through processing and to maximize the recycling and free release of clean materials.
“Building on the successes to-date from our research initiative in Hamilton, Laurentis is pleased to expand our presence in Bruce County and support this project by delivering a building and equipment that will meet OPG’s need for efficient, advanced and innovative sorting of nuclear materials,” said Brad Ellsworth, Project Manager at Laurentis. “By sharing our expertise, we can continue our mission of advancing nuclear-energy innovations and environmental solutions across the nuclear industry.”
Volume reductions lessen the need for new storage buildings, cut the cost of decommissioning stations, and reduce the amount of space needed in interim storage and eventual permanent disposal facilities.
“This new facility represents an opportunity to support the three Rs and reduce our environmental footprint,” said Jason Wooland, Director of Western Operations for OPG’s Nuclear Sustainability Services. “We can minimize the amount of nuclear by-products in storage, by carefully sorting and segregating what is clean, what is recyclable, and what can be processed to reduce the volume. That’s good news for the environment – and it’s resulting in new jobs in Kincardine.”
The new 42,000-square-foot WCSR facility will be located 3 kilometres to the east of OPG’s Western Waste Management Facility, outside of the Bruce nuclear site, at the Bruce Energy Centre, and will benefit the local economy through property taxes, construction, and the employment of approximately 25 people.
By demonstrating expertise and innovation in nuclear-materials handling, it may also help open the door to future commercial opportunities for Laurentis, a commercial subsidiary of OPG, in sorting and recycling for other nuclear operators, whether in Canada or beyond.
The Western Clean-Energy Materials and Sorting Facility will be built similar to Laurentis’s facility in Hamilton. Pictured above is the first shipment of low-level materials that arrived at the Hamilton CMSR facility in 2020.
Agreement on OPG-patented Breaker Racking Tool leads to Laurentis’s first royalty cheque from Amidyne Solutions
In May 2020, Laurentis Energy Partners, a commercial subsidiary of Ontario Power Generation (OPG), signed a 5-year agreement with Amidyne Solutions Inc., providing Amidyne with a commercial license to manufacture, sell, and distribute OPG’s patented Breaker Racking Tool, in return for royalties on sales.
Responsible for providing support and managing the relationship and interaction between OPG and Amidyne, Laurentis received their first royalty cheque through the agreement in mid-2021.
“This agreement demonstrates the wide variety of skills and services that Laurentis is capable of providing,” said James Lauritsen, Managing Director at Laurentis Energy Partners. “We’re capable of projects big or small, from project management and engineering services, to small- or large-scale asset refurbishments, to state-of-the-art system software and inspection technologies. It’s not just a slogan; Laurentis truly is a diverse innovator and leader in the clean-energy industry.”
The patented tool, designed and fabricated by OPG Operations and Maintenance personnel, allows a breaker to be racked more efficiently and, most importantly, safer.
“When breakers are racked, there is a risk of an arc flash,” said James Willson, Maintenance Manager at OPG’s Darlington Nuclear Generating Station, east of Toronto. “As such, there is a designated arc flash boundary and the personnel performing the work must be equipped with the proper personal protective equipment.”
“This remote tool allows workers to remain out of the arc flash boundary while performing the breaker work, helping to keep them safe and out of harm’s way,” explained Willson.
"This is not only an excellent demonstration of OPG's shop floor driven innovation, but also a great example of how OPG is leveraging innovative revenue opportunities through Laurentis."
Laurentis and McMaster’s Clean Energy Sorting and Recycling Initiative is making strides
With nearly 60 percent of Ontario’s electricity coming from nuclear – and more regions around the world looking to nuclear as a source of clean, low-carbon energy – it’s important for the industry to strive for the highest levels of environmental protection.
That’s the mission of a research project underway between Laurentis Energy Partners and McMaster University.
It was just an idea on paper in April 2020. Now, a little over a year later, it’s a safe, efficient, operating laboratory for innovation. The Clean Energy-Materials Sorting and Recycling Research Initiative (CMSR) in Hamilton, Ontario, is making strides toward advancing nuclear-energy innovations and supporting environmental solutions across the nuclear industry.
Researchers at the CMSR are exploring new techniques to process low-level nuclear byproducts. These materials include used worker garments, shoe covers and gloves, mops and rags used in cleaning, small tools, and other industrial materials used in the nuclear industry.
Such materials are classified by nuclear regulators as low-level radioactive waste, with minimal levels of contamination. On examination in the laboratory, some of the materials are even found to be free of any radioactivity at all. McMaster and Laurentis are engaging in research to better understand the source term characterization of the low-level waste.
Until now, these materials have been sorted by hand to determine what can be safely recycled and what could be processed by incineration or compaction, to reduce volume and the environmental footprint. It’s a low-tech, time-consuming and labour-intensive method of sorting, but it’s the standard practice at OPG’s Western Waste Management Facility and in other waste-sorting facilities around the world.
Working together, Laurentis and McMaster are exploring new methods and technologies, such as automated sorting and optimized radiation detection methods, to further sort and help divert more nuclear byproducts to re-use and recycling. And they’re making good progress.
Last month, the facility, employing 30 staff, achieved 92 per cent of their processing target, currently in the hundreds of cubic metres a month, all while keeping a strong focus on safety, quality, and environmental stewardship.
“What we’re really doing is taking action to fix and correct the past, present and future of nuclear waste,” said Erik Rogerson, Laurentis CMSR Operations Manager. “So far, we’ve been able to re-characterize, further reduce or recycle the materials that come to our facility by about 50 per cent. That’s something our team can be proud of.”
The materials in this research initiative are collected from both the daily operations of OPG-owned generating stations, as well as from low-level storage buildings at OPG’s Western Waste Management Facility at the Bruce nuclear site in Kincardine, Ontario.
“We have an opportunity here to really change the nuclear waste picture in Ontario, Canada, and across the world”, said Erik. “We’re defining best practices and responding to real-time industry problems, creating long-term solutions.” “I look forward to seeing what our team and McMaster can achieve over the remainder of this project and beyond.”
It’s a win for the environment – and it’s also good for business. Lessons learned in Laurentis' laboratory in Hamilton may have applications in nuclear operations around the world. By efficiently reducing stored volumes and maximizing free release or recycling of clean materials, operators can reduce the need to build new storage buildings, cut the cost of decommissioning stations, and reduce space needed in eventual permanent disposal facilities.
Laurentis is a commercial subsidiary of Ontario Power Generation, one of the largest and most diverse clean-energy generators in North America. Based in Canada and with operations in Europe, Laurentis offers expertise in nuclear, hydro, and solar generation, inspections and engineering, nuclear transportation and materials recycling, and medical isotopes.
Laurentis is also a partner in the Centre for Canadian Nuclear Sustainability (CCNS), a hub of industry collaboration to develop advances in decommissioning.
Laurentis is a Proud Partner in the Atlantica Centre for Energy
Laurentis Energy Partners is proud to be a partner in the Atlantica Centre for Energy (ACE), working with industry and community partners to strengthen Canada’s east-coast energy sector. The Centre, based in Saint John, New Brunswick, is dedicated to increasing energy literacy and serving as a bridge between energy companies and local communities, supporting sustainable growth and economic development in Atlantic Canada and the northeastern United States.
“We have brought together key partners representing community, academia and private- and public-sector participants to collaborate on energy development,” said Colleen d’Entremont, President of the Atlantica Centre for Energy. “Working together, we foster an exchange of information and dialogue, to learn from each other and advance the region’s energy opportunities.”
As an innovator and leader in the clean-energy industry and with an office, contracts, and customers in New Brunswick, Laurentis joined the partnership in 2020 to contribute to clean-energy development in Atlantic Canada. “We look forward to leveraging our expertise in the clean energy sector, including nuclear, hydro and solar generation, to help solve issues, encourage discussion, and develop energy solutions that help to move the region and the world forward”, said Andrew Whipple, Senior Advisor for Laurentis Energy Partners in New Brunswick.
Atlantica partners include the University of New Brunswick, Saint John Energy, NB Power, Irving Oil, Liberty Utilities, Emera, and Heritage Gas, among others.Partners appreciate how their collaboration through the Centre provides a forum for government, education and research sectors and the community at large to engage in energy-related issues.
Andrew Whipple, Senior Advisor at Laurentis Energy Partners (left) celebrates partnership with President of the Atlantica Centre for Energy, Colleen d'Entremont (right).
Laurentis Energy Partners, a subsidiary of Ontario Power Generation, is an industry-leading provider of inspection, maintenance, engineering, and project management. It provides business-to-business solutions for customers across the energy spectrum: from nuclear, hydro and solar generation, to the advancement of new technologies such as small modular reactors, and production of medical isotopes. In the Atlantic region, Laurentis’ customers have included NB Power, Irving Oil and Nalcor – with services ranging from inspections to transportation of nuclear materials. Laurentis also has offices and operations across Ontario (in Toronto, Pickering, Hamilton and Port Elgin) and in Bucharest, Romania.
Among other activities, ACE hosts regular events such as panel discussions and webinars, with speakers from among its partners, and issues a newsletter with news about the regional energy sector. For more information on ACE, you can visit their website here.