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The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) is a key player in research, development and innovation.
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Media kits | Nuclear energy | Fuel Cycle
France has opted for a policy of processing and recycling spent fuel. This strategy will reach its full potential with the fourth generation. The CEA developed most processes in use today, and is pursuing research to improve, extend, and adapt these technologies to tomorrow’s challenges. It is therefore preparing future fuel cycles in liaison with the development of 4th-generation nuclear systems.
France has opted for a “closed cycle” to recycle the reusable materials in spent fuel (uranium and plutonium) and optimise ultimate waste management.
From the mine to the reactor, a vast industrial system ensures the conversion of uranium contained in the ore to obtain uranium oxide (UOX) fuel pellets. Selective extraction, purification, enrichment — key scientific and technical challenges for the CEA teams.
The back-end stages of the fuel cycle for recycling the reusable materials in spent fuel and conditioning the final wasteforms have reached maturity. CEA teams are pursuing their research in support of industry to optimise these processes.
Multi-recycle plutonium, make even better use of uranium resources and, over the longer term, explore the possibility of transmuting the most highly radioactive waste: these are the challenges facing future nuclear systems.
How do we guarantee energy independence and secure supplies, while improving safety standards, optimising our management of materials, and minimising waste production? And all this without emitting greenhouse gases? These are the specifications for future nuclear systems defined by the Generation IV International Forum (GIF).
The CEA’s Nuclear Energy Division is developing innovative solutions in the field of nuclear dismantling which are already the subject of industrial transfers.
Though it is a well-defined industrial product that has been duly tested over several decades, nuclear fuel nonetheless remains the focus of numerous innovations.
Guaranteeing the safety, lifespan and performance levels of current reactors, while designing and qualifying new materials capable of resisting the specific constraints of future nuclear systems, are the main issues investigated at the CEA in the field of nuclear materials.
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.