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Between 1955 and 1958, Canadair was involved in three nuclear programs.
In August 1955, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL) awarded Canadair a contract to design and build a small, low-cost atomic reactor for research into problems of constructing economical electricity-producing atomic power plants. This "swimming pool" or pool test reactor determined how much reactor fuels absorb neutrons, the agent used to split uranium and produce energy. The first of its kind in Canada, the reactor went into operation at the AECL facility at Chalk River, Ontario, on November 29, 1957.
In May 1956, AECL contracted for the design and manufacture of the coils and support structure for a Beta-Ray Spectrometer to measure energy emitted from radio-active sources. The 6,400-kg (14,000 lb.) spectrometer consisted mainly of three pairs of coils, the largest 4.3 m (14 ft.) in diameter. Each coil was an assembly of four sections wound from aluminum strip and mylar tape to fine tolerances. The components were shipped to AECL in November 1957.
In December 1956, the University of Toronto gave Canadair an order for a sub-critical atomic reactor for training purposes. This was a simplified form of reactor which produced a low-level chain reaction that never reached the self-sustaining stage. It was delivered in June 1958.
Canadair Nuclear ceased operations shortly after completion of the University's reactor because Canadair's activities were overlapping those of a sister General Dynamics division, General Atomic of LaJolla, California.