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Of Interest

See archived articles

"Topping out" RES cooling towers

Robert Arnoux

Work on the Nuclear Propulsion Test Reactor (RES) began in the mid 1990s and should be complete by 2012. © CEA / Le Senechal (Click to view larger version...)
Work on the Nuclear Propulsion Test Reactor (RES) began in the mid 1990s and should be complete by 2012. © CEA / Le Senechal
The development of nuclear propulsion reactors for the French Navy was one of the main reasons why CEA-Cadarache was established in 1959. Half a century later, it's the fourth generation of nuclear boilers that is being developed there.

Work on the Nuclear Propulsion Test Reactor (RES) began in the mid-1990s and should be complete by 2012. A research installation more than an actual prototype, RES will act as support for the French nuclear fleet and contribute to the training of their officers. It will also test new fuels and new core architectures, validate computational models and simulations, and qualify new concepts.

In July 2005, the reactor's 820-tonne containment system was assembled on site and moved into the reactor building, using 36-wheel transport platform similar to the ones that will deliver the largest ITER components to the ITER site. Less than two years later, the reactor vessel was inserted into the containment system.

Following construction tradition, a small tree was placed last week on the roof of the concrete structure that will host the RES atmospheric cooling system. © CEA / Le Senechal (Click to view larger version...)
Following construction tradition, a small tree was placed last week on the roof of the concrete structure that will host the RES atmospheric cooling system. © CEA / Le Senechal
Next to the main building, work is ongoing for the concrete structure that will host the atmospheric cooling system. These "cooling towers" will dissipate the residual energy from the reactor. Last week, as work on the tallest part of the structure was completed, a small tree was placed on the roof and hung with garlands—a construction tradition that originates in Eastern Europe and is called "topping out."



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