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A for "Atomic" - and now also for "Alternative"

-Robert Arnoux

The acronym CEA should now be understood as Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique et aux Énergies Alternatives. (Click to view larger version...)
The acronym CEA should now be understood as Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique et aux Énergies Alternatives.
For 65 years, "CEA" stood for Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique ... period. On 14 December, President Sarkozy of France announced that "in order to honour the government's equal commitment to the development of nuclear and alternative energies," the acronym should now be understood as Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique et aux Énergies Alternatives.

Does this mean that, from now on, we'll have to refer to our neighbour and host as CEA-EA? "We'll keep the acronym unchanged," says CEA-Cadarache's Director Serge Durand. "But there'll be an added line under the logo that will clearly spell out the institution's commitment to alternative energies."

"An energy mix is something we've always advocated," says CEA-Cadarache Director Serge Durand. "The new meaning of the acronym makes perfect sense." (Click to view larger version...)
"An energy mix is something we've always advocated," says CEA-Cadarache Director Serge Durand. "The new meaning of the acronym makes perfect sense."
CEA was established in 1945 to develop applications of nuclear power, both military and civilian. "Early on, the expertise in nuclear-related matters naturally led to the exploration of other domains of knowledge and technology," says Serge Durand.

CEA's competence in microelectronics, for instance, directly stems from research on "hardened" electronics destined for nuclear warheads; second generation biofuels are a spin-off from the expertise acquired in very high temperatures; the quest for neutron-resistant materials boosted research on nanomaterials that are presently implemented in solar panels... Only 60% of CEA's present activity is devoted to nuclear energy, whether fusion or fission.

"An energy mix is something we've always advocated," says Durand. "With the exception of hydroelectric and wind energy, we have research programs in all forms of renewable energy. We would have been sorry to loose the "atomique" part of our acronym, because this is what our culture and history are about. As it is now, it makes perfect sense."


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