NEST Small Modular Reactors (SMRs)

This NEST project aims to integrate existing SMR research projects from individual participating organisations into a broader and more impactful programme. The project is addressing challenges and opportunities in regards to the development and deployment of SMRs. Key topic areas that are covered under the project include SMR technology assessment and development; regulatory frameworks; societal issues; spent fuel management; and SMR economics.

The project structure is flexible allowing for case studies to be added, modified or removed to potentially address new areas of research (subject to NEST Management Board approval). It also provides multi-disciplinary and multi-national training opportunities for NEST Fellows. In all, the NEST SMR project is holistic in scope with a programme that is both impactful and relevant for the future deployment of SMR technologies globally.  


The development of SMRs for near-term deployment is progressing globally and these innovative technologies have a high degree of promise as an option to provide both baseload and flexible energy generation to ensure security of supply within carbon free energy systems. There are in fact many forces behind the development of SMRs, including:

  • meeting the need for flexible power generation for a wide range of users and applications;
  • replacing fossil-fuel fired power plants;
  • suitability for cogeneration and non-electricity applications;
  • options for remote regions and countries with less developed energy infrastructures; and
  • offering possibilities for synergetic hybrid energy systems that combine nuclear and alternate energy sources, including renewables.

From this viewpoint, there is major international interest in SMRs since they have the potential to alter the nuclear landscape and drive a realistic, sustainable low carbon future.


The NEST SMR project aims to advance the understanding around the technology, regulatory framework, societal issues, spent fuel management, and economics associated with the deployment of small modular reactors. The project’s Programme of Work includes:

  • NEST fellowships embedded in Master’s projects, or as part of PhD or post-doctoral programs;
  • Active presence and participation of NEST fellows during the various experimental test campaigns and in the accompanying project meetings;
  • Workshops, seminars and dedicated NEST educational events;
  • Developing dedicated exploratory research projects (e.g. based on experimental and/or analytical activities in SMR technology) that engage the professors at the participating organisations in order to ensure continuity. These projects could well be carried out in time frames beyond the SMR Project.

The partnership between subject matter experts from Canada, USA, Belgium, France and Switzerland aims to encourage students to pursue careers in the field of SMRs by proposing a multinational framework in which they can gain valuable knowledge and acquire new skills. In doing so, the SMR project will help address issues related nuclear skills capacity building, knowledge transfer and technical innovation.

Leading organisation

  • McMaster University, Canada

Participating organisations

  • University of Saskatchewan, Canada
  • University of Regina, Canada
  • Texas A&M University, USA
  • University of California-Berkeley, USA
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
  • SCK-CEN, Belgium
  • Ecole Polytechnique Federal de Lausanne, Switzerland
  • CNRS Grenoble, France