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Today, Orano is continuing and speeding up its efforts to develop innovative solutions to support its existing value creation models.
Orano Med and its partner RadioMedix have received FDA* approval in the United States to initiate Phase 1 clinical trials on AlphaMedixTM, a development therapy for patients with neuroendocrine tumors (NET) that express specific receptors, known as somatostatin receptors. AlphaMedixTM made of a peptide analogous to somatostatin, which makes it possible to target tumour cells. Radio-marked with lead-212 (212Pb), it will make it possible, during anti-proliferation, to kill cancerous cells while limiting the damage to the surrounding healthy cells.
The objective of Phase 1 is to assess the tolerance, biodistribution and preliminary efficacy of AlphaMedixTM in adult patients with neuroendocrine tumors, by gradually increasing treatment doses. AlphaMedixTM will be produced entirely by Orano Med teams in the DDPU in Plano (Texas), before being sent to a clinical center in Houston specialised in this type of tumour. Patients will be treated under the responsibility of RadioMedix.
*Food and Drug Administration
Orano is working with the CEA, ECM Technologies and Andra on a project to develop and qualify a vitrification process that meets the demanding requirements of dismantling environments. Constraints are such that the process must be simple, robust, versatile, compact and easy to deploy on site. The DEM&MELT process is designed to meet all these requirements whilst keeping investment and operating costs down.
The overall benefits offered by a glass matrix are significantly greater than with the cement matrices implemented to date, making it possible to stabilize, contain and densify high and intermediate-level waste over the long term.
The development of the DEM&MELT process is being co-funded by the French government program "Programme d’Investissements d’Avenir" [“Investments for the Future” Program]. This program encourages initiatives that support carbon neutrality and competitiveness through innovation.
DEM&MELT is a thermal "In-Can" process for intermediate and high-level solid and liquid waste. The process offers a number of benefits:
The DEM&MELT technology allows the waste to be reduced in volume and stabilized, as well as providing durable long-term containment of radionuclides. DEM&MELT benefits from more than 40 years of Orano experience in the construction and operation of very high activity vitrification units.
can inside the furnace © CEA
2020 : Major steps forward in the industrial development process for this technology
Over the last few months, the project has successfully achieved two major milestones demonstrating the maturity of the entire process and confirming its simplicity, flexibility, and robustness:
• In November 2020, the DEM&MELT scale 1 pilot was successfully commissioned with the melting of the first batch of 250 kg of glass.
• In February 2021, an industrial-scale canister weighing 300 kg was successfully produced, conditioning a reference waste - typical of waste resulting from cleanup and dismantling - in a glass matrix with an incorporation rate close to 70%. This test confirms the ability of the process to provide significant volume reduction thanks to the very high waste loading achievable.
“These milestones demonstrate the improved maturity of the DEM&MELT solution and reward the high-quality teamwork with our partners, CEA, ECM Technologies and Andra. It is above all a very encouraging signal for nuclear operators who will now be in a position to manage Intermediate and High-Level Waste with a robust, simple and versatile in situ vitrification process”, explained Pascal Aubret, Senior Executive Vice President of the Recycling Business Unit at Orano.
DEM&MELT full scale pilot © CEA
Since the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (NPS) in 2011, the water from the reactors has been continuously treated (decontamination of radioactive elements).
Today's challenge? To reduce the volume and to condition the nuclear wastes (sludges, mineral adsorbents for the most part) resulting from the treatment of these effluents, and produce packages that meet safety requirements for interim storage and final disposal. Vitrification is a solution that will satisfy these requirements.
The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is funding a feasibility study to demonstrate the applicability of the DEM&MELT process for conditioning secondary waste from the treatment of effluents from the Fukushima Daiichi power plant as part of the "Project of Decommissioning Water Treatment" program. With more than 40 years of experience in the operation of very high activity vitrification units (notably at La Hague and Marcoule), Orano has been cooperating on this project with CEA and ANADEC (Orano ATOX D&D solutions Co, Ltd – Japan) since 2018.
The results of the tests carried out at various scales (from laboratory to industrial scale pilot) within the framework of this project and other R&D programs, confirm DEM&MELT's ability to produce high-quality packages, with high rates of waste loading into the glass matrix, while ensuring long-term containment of radioelements.
The implementation study conducted for DEM&MELT units at Fukushima Daiichi NPS also highlighted reduced processing times while ensuring optimized investment and operating costs.
The project for Fukushima Daiichi waste is being continued in 2021 and 2022 with the implementation of additional trials and the execution of a set of tests on the industrial scale pilot.
Beyond the applicability for conditioning Fukushima Daiichi NPS water treatment secondary waste, DEM&MELT could well open a new path for efficient conditioning of the intermediate to high-level waste generated by the cleanup and dismantling of nuclear facilities and sites around the world, including for the treatment of legacy waste.