Materials test reactor gets its dome

16 December 2013

The dome of the Jules Horowitz Reactor (RJH), under construction at Cadarache in southern France, has been installed. Once in operation, the reactor will be used for testing current and future fuel designs.

RJH dome installation 460 (CEA)
The dome is lowered into place on Jules Horowitz's containment building (Image: CEA)

Site preparations for the 100 MWt light water cooled reactor began in March 2007, with first concrete for its basemat poured in August 2009. The 105-tonne dome for the containment building of the reactor was raised by crane and lowered into place on 13 December.

Operated by France's national energy research commission, the CEA, the RJH will replace the 70 MWt Osiris reactor, which itself took over some of the roles of the 35 MWt Siloé reactor. First criticality of the reactor is scheduled for 2016.

The modular design will be highly versatile and able to accommodate some 20 simultaneous experiments. Over its anticipated 50-year lifespan it will be used for studies on materials used in the nuclear power reactors of today and tomorrow, as well as testing fuels for current and future reactors. The instrumentation to be used with the reactor will allow hitherto unavailable real-time analysis to be performed.

The reactor will also play a vital role in producing radioisotopes for use in nuclear medicine across Europe in coordination with existing NRG production facilities at Petten in the Netherlands.

RJH is being built under the framework of an international consortium of research institutes from France, the Czech Republic, Spain, Finland, Sweden, Belgium, the UK and the European Commission, plus major companies such as EDF and Areva. Partners from India and Japan have also joined the consortium and the door remains open for potential European or international partners.

The CEA is funding 50% of the total €500 million ($690 million) construction cost, with the remainder coming from EDF (20%), the research institutes (20%) and Areva (10%).

The CEA's Cadarache site is also home to the Iter fusion reactor, first concrete for which was poured last week.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News