AECL research reactor gets landmark status

The international nuclear community designated the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited’s (AECL) Zero Energy Deuterium 2 (ZED-2) research reactor a nuclear historical landmark, presented by the American Nuclear Society.  The award, given on November 2 during a technical conference in Ottawa, honored the reactor for its 50 years of operation and for its outstanding contributions to the global nuclear industry.

Chalk River Lab

Over the past five decades, ZED-2 has been involved in testing fuel designs for AECL’s Candu reactor series and testing advanced fuel cycles for future reactors. The reactor continues to serve this purpose. Its landmark status, officially declared in September this year but not awarded until the November meeting, is being marked by a bronze ANS Nuclear Historic Landmark plaque at AECL’s Chalk River Laboratories in Ontario, where the ZED-2 is located.

The award was presented to AECL by ANS President Joe  Colvin, during the Canadian Nuclear Society’s (CNS) Technical Meeting on Low-Power Critical Facilities and Small Reactors, where industry experts and academics gathered to showcase nuclear accomplishments.

The landmark status is given to sites or facilities where outstanding physical accomplishments have taken place that were instrumental to the advancement and implementation of nuclear technology and to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.


Colvin commented on the significance of the award. “The American Nuclear Society is pleased to present this Nuclear Historic Landmark Award to the ZED-2 Heavy Water Critical Facility in recognition of the valuable physics data it provided in heavy water reactors, an outstanding physical accomplishment instrumental in the development and implementation of nuclear technology and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy,” he said.

Benjamin Rouben, CNS executive administrator, added, “We have come from all over the world to mark the historic occasion of the 50th anniversary of ZED-2, and to articulate the important accomplishments that ZED-2 and similar facilities have made in scientific research.”

“This event is a true international celebration of the progress we’ve made in Canada through these nuclear facilities. The ANS award is recognition of this and Canadians should be proud of it,” Rouben said.

ANS certificate

Rick Didsbury, acting vice president and general manager of Research and Development at the Chalk River Laboratories, said, “Over the past 50 years, ZED-2 has proven to be a key facility in the advancement of nuclear science and technology for the benefit of people around the world. This prestigious ANS award is clear evidence of this.”

“This technical conference is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of this important research facility, as we gather to foster global partnerships around nuclear research,” he said.

About ZED-2
Built in the late 1950s, the ZED-2 Critical Facility achieved first criticality on September 7, 1960, and turned 50 years old earlier this year. ZED-2 is the successor to ZEEP – the first nuclear reactor outside the United States – and was initially built to test the fuel arrangements of Canada’s first power plant.

Since that time, ZED-2 has supported the development of the Candu industry by testing a wide range of fuel bundle designs and fuel arrangements at low power (usually between 5 to 100 watts) under a variety of operating conditions and simulated accident scenarios.

ZED-2 continues to operate today, actively supporting improvements to the current fleet of Candu reactors and to the development of next-generation reactor concepts, including advanced fuel cycles and thorium fuels. ZED-2 is also used to calibrate neutron detectors for use in power reactors.

For more information on the Technical Conference on Low-Power Critical Facilities and Small Reactors, please visit the AECL home page.

About AECL
Atomic Energy of Canada Limited is a nuclear technology company providing services to nuclear utilities around the world. Established in 1952, AECL is the designer and builder of Candu technology, including the Candu 6. AECL’s 5000 employees deliver nuclear services, R&D support, design, and engineering, construction management, specialized technology, refurbishment, waste management, and decommissioning in support of Candu reactor products.

The full list of nuclear historic landmarks can be found at the ANS Web site.

2 responses to “AECL research reactor gets landmark status

  1. Pingback: Canada’s ZED-2 reactor defines the future of Candu designs | ANS Nuclear Cafe

  2. “For more information on the Technical Conference on Low-Power Critical Facilities and Small Reactors, please visit the AECL home page.”
    The linked URL is actually the home page of the Canadian Nuclear Society. AECL’s home page is

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