Orano completes new stable isotopes laboratory

12 October 2021

Orano has completed construction of a new laboratory for the production of stable isotopes at its Tricastin site. The French nuclear fuel cycle company said the laboratory - the first one of its kind in France - will begin operations in the second half of 2023.

From left to right: Fran├žois Jacq; Jean-Bernard Levy; Alain Gallu, mayor of Pierrelatte; and Philippe Knoche (Image: Orano)

A ceremony was held yesterday to mark the facility's completion, which was attended by Orano CEO Philippe Knoche, EDF CEO and Chairman Jean-Bernard Levy, CEA Chairman Fran├žois Jacq, as well as local elected representatives.

Orano said the new facility - covering an area of 3200 square metres - represents an investment of almost EUR15 million (USD17 million) and will employ around 20 highly-qualified workers.

"Wishing to reinforce its know-how and make optimum use of its cutting-edge technologies, Orano is developing a new activity on the Tricastin site: the production of stable isotopes, in other words of non-radioactive elements, thanks to the technological expertise and know-how of the teams on the site," the company said.

Stable isotopes - non-radioactive forms of atoms - are used in many applications and demand for them is continuing to grow. Though they do not emit radiation, due their properties, they are used in particular in the medical sector, such as in cancer diagnosis and treatment; in the industrial sector, for example for increased laser performance; and in basic research, such as quantum information science.

"This new high-tech activity is the first of its kind in France," Knoche said. "With the production of stable isotopes, we are innovating and exploring new fields of application for our technologies outside of the nuclear sector. At a time when growing emphasis is being placed on issues of national sovereignty, we are making our contribution with this new industrial investment in France."

Last week, Urenco Nederland BV subsidiary Urenco Stable Isotopes officially opened its new Leonardo da Vinci cascade, designed for the enrichment of multiple isotopes, including cadmium, germanium, iridium, molybdenum, selenium, tellurium, titanium, tungsten, xenon and zinc. Urenco Stable Isotopes has operated for over three decades at Almelo. Each year, more than 100,000 patient treatments are performed using nuclear medicines produced with Urenco's stable isotopes.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News