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Test Reactor Divergence

​On 10 October 2018, the test reactor for nuclear propulsion studies diverged at 11:52 am. The divergence marks the operational startup of the test reactor by the CEA's Directorate of Military Applications at the Cadarache research center.

Published on 31 October 2018

The test reactor is representative of the compact naval nuclear propulsion that powers French submarines and the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. It is used to reproduce the operation of on-board propulsion systems by testing the equipment in even more demanding endurance conditions. It thus contributes to increasing their operational availability and demonstrating their safety. The predecessors of the test reactor were prototypes designed to develop successive nuclear propulsion concepts. The test reactor is an experimental research and development tool equipped with extensive instrumentation specific to the reactor core. The data acquired will be used to improve simulations to adapt nuclear propulsion to the future needs of the vessels while making the safety demonstration even more robust. The test reactor also contributes to maintaining the skills of the teams in charge of nuclear propulsion.

The stakes of the test reactor are high, in terms of the availability of nuclear-powered vessels and therefore the credibility of deterrence as well as the sustainability of naval nuclear propulsion.
The Directorate of Nuclear Propulsion, within the CEA's Directorate of Military Applications, was responsible for the project management of the test reactor programme.
The divergence of a nuclear reactor corresponds to the beginning of the chain reaction phenomenon that enables the reactor to operate.

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