16 December 2020

Nuclear industry and Big Science

CNIM delivers to TechnicAtome the 18 parts constituting the heart of the Jules Horowitz Reactor (JHR)

In 2015, TechniAtome awarded CNIM a contract to manufacture the core of Jules Horowitz Reactor, known as the Reactor battery block.

The Jules Horowitz Reactor (JHR) is a high-tech research reactor, coordinated by the Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique (CEA), intended for use in safety qualification processes for irradiated materials and nuclear fuels. The JHR will be an international R&D facility with a mission to enhance nuclear power plants’ safety and reliability.

More information: https://cnim.com/en/jules-horowitz-reactor-operational-excellence-cnim

The manufacturing of the Reactor battery block completed in 2018 has been preceded by a program of preliminary studies to check manufacturability and address the following requirements: CAD machining program simulations, full-scale models, test bed for the electron beam-welded joints on the 6061 T6 alloy reactor tank.

The Reactor battery block designed by TechnicAtome's teams consists of complex parts measuring 9m high by 2m wide and weighing no less than 20 tonnes. CNIM was able to manufacture this part thanks to its advanced industrial facilities. The block’s manufacture required CNIM Industrial Systems’ expertise in TIG & MIG welding, electron beam welding, large-dimension machining with a high level of precision (positioning quality to within 1/10), as well as close collaboration with the designer to meet all technical challenges.  

As nuclear pressure equipment (ESPN), the machining and welding of the battery block complies with the standards of the European ESPN Directive. After a blank assembly carried out in the factory in 2018, the elements making up the Reactor battery block were delivered to the customer in Cadarache in two stages (September 2019 for the stainless-steel equipment and recently for the aluminium equipment). Delivery was made under escort to avoid any possible damage to the parts during transport.

The stainless-steel components were successfully assembled on site by TechnicAtome at the end of 2019 and the aluminium components have just been assembled as well. Once the Reactor battery block is assembled, it will be connected to the reactor's primary circuit and will be able to go through a long series of preparatory tests before fuel loading and the first divergence.

The manufacturing of the Reactor battery block, the heart of the JHR reactor, involved no less than thirty CNIM employees and the collaboration of numerous departments: methods, production, control, quality and project team.