Saskatchewan Research Council’s SLOWPOKE Reactor-30 Years and Still Glowing
33rd Annual CNS Conference - 2012 June 10-13

Presented at:
33rd Annual CNS Conference
2012 June 10-13
Saskatoon, Canada
Session Title:
WFS - Education

Brenda Stanek (Saskatchewan Research Council)


In 1981, a SLOWPOKE-2 nuclear research reactor was installed at SRC Environmental Analytical Laboratories facility in Saskatoon and it has been operated trouble-free ever since it’s commissioning.

The SLOWPOKE reactor was designed by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL) in the 1970’s and is a low-energy, pool type reactor.  The design is such that the heat produced by the reactor limits its reactivity and hence the reactor cannot run into uncontrolled power excursion, thus providing a high degree of inherent safety.

Too small to be used as a source of power generation, the SLOWPOKE is used as a neutron source for an analytical technique known as neutron activation analysis (NAA).  NAA is a non-destructive technique that allows for the analysis of many elements of the periodic table by producing radioactive isotopes which can then by analyzed using gamma spectroscopy, or by inducing fission in U 235 for analysis of uranium by delayed neutron counting. 

The history and basic design features of the reactor will be discussed.   Applications of the NAA technique used at the laboratory will also be presented.

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