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Framatome 3D prints metallic uranium fuel objects at CRIL

The world’s first uranium-molybdenum and uranium-silicon objects

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French nuclear industry leader Framatome recently manufactured the world’s first uranium-molybdenum and uranium-silicon objects using 3D printing technology. The objects were manufactured at the CERCA Research and Innovation Lab (CRIL). This technological leap advances the development and production of metallic uranium fuel plates for research reactors and irradiation targets for medical isotopes widely used by hospitals for the diagnosis of cancer.

Lionel Gaiffe, senior executive vice president of the Fuel Business Unit at Framatome commented that “Framatome is confident in the future of the 3D printing process. This breakthrough technology – he said – demonstrates the technical and economic value and complements our production processes, which greatly supports the supply to both our research reactor’s and medical sources’ customers.” 

It is our ambition to make CERCA the benchmark for prototype development and research, and development work related to metallic uranium fuels and irradiation targets for medical use,” Gaiffe concluded.

A schematic of Framatome's uranium-related businesses
A schematic of Framatome’s uranium-related businesses

The uranium-molybdenum and uranium-silicon objects were 3D printed, layer by layer, using laser beam melting (laser PBF) equipment. This equipment is nuclear compliant and operates in a glove box under an inert argon gas atmosphere. The manufacturing project was developed by Framatome R&D experts working in close collaboration with the University of Technology of Belfort Montbéliard.

Framatome will continue to advance 3D printing technology for the production of irradiation targets and other components such as fuel plates for research reactors. Research efforts at CRIL can also be applied to prototyping or to small series production of innovative fuels for fourth-generation advanced reactors.

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Adam Strömbergsson

Adam is a legal researcher and writer with a background in law and literature. Born in Montreal, Canada, he has spent the last decade in Ottawa, Canada, where he has worked in legislative affairs, law, and academia. Adam specializes in his pursuits, most recently in additive manufacturing. He is particularly interested in the coming international and national regulation of additive manufacturing. His past projects include a history of his alma mater, the University of Ottawa. He has also specialized in equity law and its relationship to judicial review. Adam’s current interest in additive manufacturing pairs with his knowledge of historical developments in higher education, copyright and intellectual property protections.

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