Active fuel examination
Tiret rouge


A hot laboratory for the examination and fabrication of fuel rods.​​​​


The active fuel examination laboratory (LECA) is a hot laboratory used to handle high-level fuels and materials in biologically shielded cells with dynamic containment systems. These hot cells are used to perform destructive and non-destructive tests on irradiated materials and fuel rods from various nuclear power reactor technologies (French and foreign) and test reactors, e.g. CABRI.
The LECA is also used to manufacture instrumented fuel rods called FABRICE rods; they are then tested in material testing reactors (MTR) like the JHR, before being sent back to the LECA for assessment and data analysis.
Post-irradiation analysis increases our knowledge of irradiated fuel behaviour and improves the experimental databases that are used to develop the calculation codes for simulation purposes; such codes are used on the PLEIADES fuel simulation platform at IRESNE.
The LECA has 10 shielded cells and 2 shielded gloveboxes capable of handling fuel rods up to 2.5 metres long. A microanalysis laboratory supports the work performed in these hot cells. Our researchers carry out assessments and analyses using a range of methods: visual examinations, cutting, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), electron microprobe (EPMA), ion microprobe (SIMS), image analysis, density & porosity measurements, structural analysis using XRD, and heat treatments.
We also study fission product and helium releases from irradiated fuels, together with the thermomechanical behaviour of fuels, in particular by subjecting them to thermal transients in the MERARG device. ​

​Activités. © IRESNE/CEA​​


  • Destructive and non-destructive tests,
  • Physical & chemical analysis of fuels,
  • R&D on irradiated fuel,
  • Fabrication of FABRICE instrumented fuel rods for test reactors,
  • Separate-effects tests by heat treatment, etc.
​Equipements majeurs. © IRESNE/CEA

Major equipment

  • 10 shielded cells,
  • 2 shielded gloveboxes,
  • Scientific equipment used for characterisation,
  • Test equipment for irradiated materials in the MERARG device,
  • Microanalysis laboratory:
    - TEM
    - SEM
    - EPMA
    - SIMS
    - XRD.
​​Chiffres clés. © IRESNE/CEA​​

​Key figures

  • 150 people working in the LECA-STAR facility,
  • €3 million in investment every year,
  • 20 R&D projects,
  • 1 patent registered per year.
​​Partenaires. © IRESNE/CEA​​


  • About ten contractors,
  • Several French and international industry partners.​