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.
Find the latest scientific and institutional news of the CEA.
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.
CEA research on... | Energies | Nuclear energy | 2nd and 3rd generation reactors
CEA research on...
The CEA devotes a great deal of energy to research programmes to meet the needs of its industrial partners. This research focuses on reactors in the French fleet and covers issues such as service life, performance, availability and nuclear safety. Optimising the fuel cycle facilities is also an area of concern.
Research is carried out in two areas:
By identifying the limits of the current nuclear systems, researchers are able to develop new materials and tools designed to extend the service life of nuclear power plants, while improving their energy efficiency and economic profitability.
The purpose of such research is to improve fuel performance in Generation II and III reactors, as well as to develop innovative fuels for Generation IV. Each phase of the nuclear fuel cycle is analysed with the objective of extracting the maximum efficiency from uranium, while keeping the environmental impact to a strict minimum. This involves studying the different physical and chemical processes that the fuel undergoes:
Researchers at the CEA have developed a range of tools so they can model and/or experimentally reproduce hazardous situations on a small-scale, as well as identify their precise consequences on nuclear facilities. There are different kinds of situations and causes:
Research on safety issues requires investigating the mechanisms and measures that can halt the progression of a severe accident, as well as analysing the hydrogen risk, estimating the radioactivity that may result from any releases outside the reactor vessel, and understanding earthquake risks and resistance.Operating experience collected from past events is used to better identify and predict potential hazardous phenomena for nuclear facilities.
The CEA employs two approaches in parallel to carry out research on the current reactor fleet:
These two complementary approaches are essential: the information collected during experiments is used as input data for the simulations, whereas the simulations help design the mock-ups and experimental facilities.
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.