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Under construction: Reactor Jules Horowitz

-Robert Arnoux

Another site under construction: the excavation works for the Jules Horowitz reactor. (Click to view larger version...)
Another site under construction: the excavation works for the Jules Horowitz reactor.
By 2014, the commissioning of RJH should begin. (Click to view larger version...)
By 2014, the commissioning of RJH should begin.
For several months now, scrapers, rock-crushers and Caterpillars have been moving tens of thousands of cubic metres of dirt and debris in order to prepare the site for the reactor's foundations. Soon the "first concrete" will be pumped into the ground and in a matter of years the first buildings will be completed.

ITER? No, we are talking about the Reactor Jules Horowitz (RJH), a research facility which is being built at CEA Cadarache, two miles, as the crow flies, from the south of the ITER site.

Jules Horowitz (1921-1995) was a Polish-born French scientist who pioneered the field of "reactor physics" in the 50s. Breaking away from a long-established tradition of poetic acronyms—Osiris, Phebus, Rapsodie, etc—CEA has named this new installation after one of the legendary figures in its history.

Reactor Jules Horowitz will be devoted to studying materials and fuel behaviour under irradiation. It will be able to recreate the physical and chemical environments of all existing and projected power reactors. Its contribution will be essential to the development of the fuels and materials for the new Generation III power plants and for the Generation IV fast neutron reactors of the coming decades.

Since material stress and fatigue in fast neutron and in fusion reactors present similar challenges, ITER and fusion will also benefit from research done at RJH.

"All European Material Testing Reactors were built in the 60s, explains Gilles Bignan, the user's facility interface manager at RJH. By 2015-2020, they will have reached their age limit. We needed at least one facility to cope with the growing needs of our community."

Powerful (100 MW), modular, and highly versatile, RJH will be able to accommodate some 20 simultaneous experiments. "The instrumentation which has been developed will allow us to do real-time analysis. Until now, with the existing installations, we could mainly do 'post-mortems'..."


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