Poland: AREVA awarded new contract to supply low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel elements to Research Reactor MARIA


At the occasion of the RERTR 2012 International Meeting on Reduced Enrichment for Research and Test Reactors, hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy in Warsaw on October 14 to 17, AREVA CERCA, a 100% subsidiary of the AREVA group global leader in the production and provision of fuel for research reactors, was awarded a new contract for the supply of sixty-two extra low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel elements to Poland’s MARIA Research Reactor.

AREVA’s LEU fuel assemblies will provide MARIA research reactor with replacement fuel and secure the reactor future needs so to continue the successful conversion of the reactor from high enriched uranium (HEU) to LEU use.

“AREVA CERCA is proud to have successfully contributed, with its U.S. partner Battelle Energy Alliance, to the Polish National Centre for Nuclear Research (NCBJ) ambitious program to convert MARIA research reactor to LEU fuel use” said Alain Gauvin, AREVA CERCA General Manager. “This new contract demonstrates the confidence Poland’s NCBJ has in our LEU fuel and opens great perspectives for AREVA CERCA solutions for HEU/LEU conversion programs all over the world”.

The new contract builds on the successful collaboration started in 2010 between NCBJ and AREVA to help successfully convert MARIA research reactor to LEU use. Under the auspice of the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)'s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI)*, a first agreement was signed between NCBJ and AREVA for the manufacturing of suitable LEU fuel for MARIA Research Reactor, and two LEU prototypes were successfully loaded into the research reactor core to start the conversion process.

After the good performance of the prototypes, which ended in 2010, and thanks to the active contribution of the U.S. NNSA’s GTRI, a first contract was then signed in 2011 between NCBJ, Battelle Energy Alliance Llc and AREVA CERCA for the delivery of the first 25 standard LEU fuel elements to MARIA research reactor.

The first LEU fuel assemblies were delivered this year and the initial loading into the MARIA core took place in September, achieving a key milestone in the research reactor conversion process.

« After two years of careful testing of the new fuel assemblies specifically developed for the MARIA research reactor by AREVA CERCA; we have awarded AREVA with this new contract as AREVA CERCA demonstrated they had the key competences and expertise required for this challenging task. We are pleased that this successful collaboration continues on this project". Grzegorz Wrochna, Director of NCBJ.

* The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)'s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) is an international program initiated by the U.S. Department of Energy which supports the conversion of reactors using high enriched uranium (HEU) to the use of low enriched uranium (LEU) fuels throughout the world.

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