Unique laboratory opens at Queen’s University

reactor materials testing laboratory. photo by lisa logan.
reactor materials testing laboratory. photo by lisa logan.
The Reactor Materials Testing Laboratory (RMTL) has opened at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects, the specialized lab is able to simulate conditions that materials experience inside a nuclear reactor and will advance research into next generation power plants.

The central feature of the off campus one-storey structure is a large accelerator that generates a beam of high-energy protons. Encased in a reinforced concrete chamber, it can test the stresses, temperature and other conditions found in metallic components of an operational reactor core.

“This is a highly insulated facility with two-metre-thick concrete walls separating the accelerator chamber from other labs, offices and amenity spaces,” said John Featherstone, Principal, Diamond Schmitt Architects. The 600-square-metre building also includes a fully glazed corridor to bring natural light into these work areas.

Metals behave quite differently in a nuclear power reactor environment than in more conventional applications. The RMTL will use accelerator technology to allow researchers to investigate how materials respond to stress and temperature inside a nuclear reactor, leading to the safer and more efficient design and maintenance of nuclear reactors.

“The uniqueness of this facility is a testament to the innovative approaches being used by the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science to enable world-leading research and to educate our students,” said Dr. Mark Daymond, the director of the laboratory.