From research to industry
The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) is a key player in research, development and innovation.
Discover the main research areas on which the CEA works.
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The CEA publishes various scientific and technical periodicals and videos. Through them, you can discover the CEA’s major research topics and the latest technological innovations produced by its laboratories.
The CEA Research News is a newsletter bringing to your knowledge the most impacting scientific and societal advances and impacts enabled by major European research projects carried by CEA and which are covering the main priorities of the European Union.
CEA research on... | Nuclear energy | Nuclear safety | Nuclear reactors | 2nd and 3rd generation reactors | 4th generation reactors
CEA research on...
The CEA is strongly committed to ensuring the highest levels of nuclear safety, whether as an operator of nuclear facilities or as a research organisation. The studies it leads in the field are not only backing by IRSN, but also French (EDF, Areva) and foreign nuclear operators. These studies fall within a long-term approach of continuous progress. It is worth distinguishing between R&D on current Generation II and III reactors, and research devoted to Generation IV reactors for which nuclear safety is a major priority.Though the Fukushima accident did not reveal the existence of any new phenomena that needed investigating, it did highlight a number of key priorities and the need to maintain R&D efforts over time by relying on the available experimental facilities.
The research programmes at the CEA cover two key areas:
These programmes rely on the simulation of the physical phenomena involved and on the comparison of these simulations with the experimental results obtained in CEA's facilities, e.g.: shaking tables on the Tamaris platform to study the behaviour of structures under earthquake conditions, Mistra to study hydrogen risks, Plinius to study concrete-corium interactions, and Verdon to study fission product releases.
Research in this field can be divided into three main topics, each corresponding to a successive phase of an accident scenario:
R&D at the CEA is exploited by both nuclear operators and IRSN in particular within the scope of regulatory safety reviews.
Research carried out at the CEA within the scope of the Generation IV international forum (GIF) is particularly focusing on sodium-cooled fast reactors (SFRs) via the Astrid integrated technology demonstrator.
Sodium-cooled fast reactors have a number of inherent safety advantages when it comes to reactor cooling: significant thermal inertia and diversified heat sinks (water, but also atmosphere and natural convection).
Astrid and Generation IV SFRs in general must comply with the highest level of safety requirements, in particular by taking into account feedback from the Fukushima stress tests. Several technology breakthroughs have been developed by the CEA teams: the development of a new reactor core concept with optimised safety features, the elimination of sodium interactions' possibilities with air or water (risk of chemical reactions) and the development of a corium core catcher.
Of the 38 projects submitted by CEA, 21 were selected in the Euratom Fission 2016-2017 call for proposals, part of the Horizon 2020 EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. This more than 50% success rate is a testament to the excellence of the CEA teams working on nuclear energy research.
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.