Orano inaugurates Stable Isotopes Laboratory

20 October 2023

France’s Orano group has inaugurated its new Stable Isotopes Laboratory (Laboratoire d’Isotopes Stables – LIS), at its Tricastin site (Drôme et Vaucluse), in the presence of Claude Imauven, Orano Board Chairman and partners, stakeholders and elected representatives from the local area.

Stable isotopes, which are non-radioactive forms of atoms, are used for a growing number of applications especially in medicine (cancer diagnosis and treatment), industry (increased laser performance) and basic research (quantum computing). With the commissioning of this new facility, Orano is making use of the technological expertise and established know-how acquired over the past 60 years on its Tricastin site employing the same technology that is currently used to enrich uranium at the Georges Besse II plant.

The facility represents an investment of some €15m ($15.8m).

Construction of the Stable Isotopes Laboratory began in March 2021, with civil engineering works being completed in October 2022. At the start of October 2023, the first centrifuges were commissioned with a first production run of isotopic elements (Xenon).

The Laboratory has been named the ‘Jean Fourniols’ Stable Isotopes Laboratory as a tribute to an employee who played a key role in the genesis of this project. Claude Imauven said: "This new activity meets a growing demand on strategic markets. It provides a French alternative to the world's two sole industrial players in the production of stable isotopes by centrifugation technology, thus allowing French and European sovereignty to be strengthened in this area. This laboratory places a unique tool at France's disposal, illustrating our capacity to innovate and meet society's challenges by working in non-nuclear areas of activity".

Image: Cutaway of Orano's new Stable Isotopes Laboratory (courtesy of Orano Group)

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