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Activity: providing services to the nuclear research sector

Assembly of research fuel

CERCA (French acronym for Company for the Study of Atomic Fuel Creation) is the global leader in the production and provision of fuel for research reactors. This full subsidiary of AREVA also produces radioactive reference sources for industry, medicine, and research. Finally, it manufactures special equipment for the nuclear industry.

Fuel production for research reactors

CERCA is the number one global supplier of fuel for research reactors: 25 fuel models have been supplied in 40 different countries (Japan, Canada, the US, the entirety of Europe, and soon Australia and South Africa.

CERCA offers all of the related services, such as transport (CERCA casks) and supply of low-enriched uranium.

CERCA also supplies irradiated uranium for the production of Mo99, an isotope used in medical applications (cancer screening).

Additionally, CERCA is authorized to create highly-enriched uranium containing up to 93.5%isotope 235.

On the site in Romans, CERCA also has a Classified Installation for Environmental Protection (French acronym: ICPE), a "Cavity laboratory" where it produces particle accelerator cavities that are used in research, such as at the CERN laboratory (European Council for Nuclear Research) in Geneva.

Equipment for the nuclear industry and research

CERCA's mechanical engineering department supplies high-tech devices and related services for:

  • high-energy physics experiments
  • research applications
  • the nuclear industry

LEA: CERCA's research laboratory

CERCA enjoys an outstanding reputation as a producer of radioactive reference sources for industry, medicine, and research. It runs its own research laboratory: the LEA (French acronym for Activity Standard Laboratory).

The LEA also provides a variety of services, such as supply, installation, and recovery of used sources.

What is a nuclear research reactor?

Unlike power reactors used to produce electricity, research reactors are housed in research centers, such as those of the CEA (French Atomic Energy Commission) in France, the JAERI (Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute) in Japan, as well as in university laboratories.

Research reactors are mainly used for research in neutronics or the behavior of substances under the influence of radioactivity, as well as in sectors such as basic research, industry, and healthcare. They also serve in the production of radioisotopes for medical applications, for instance, in the treatment of tumors.

Over 50 reactors worldwide are supplied by CERCA, which also supplies fuel for the FRM-II reactor at the Technical University of Munich, in Garching (Germany), built by AREVA GmbH.

TRIGA, the world's number one research reactor

TRIGA (Training, Research, Isotope production, General Atomics) is a research reactor used for training, research, and production of radioisotopes. It was designed and manufactured by General Atomics, a division of General Dynamics Corp. in San Diego, California. It is operated jointly by CERCA and General Atomics in the town of Romans, in the Drôme department, France.

Since 1996, TRIGA has been the most used research reactor in the world, with over 65 installed bases in 24 countries across five continents.