Orano Tricastin: a production system now 90% renewed 

Philippe Coste: a new uranium conversion plant  

Orano is the first manufacturer in the world to have renewed its uranium conversion system. The Group operates in a price-aggressive sector, and integrating a host of technological innovations from large research & development programs has given it a competitive system with a reduced environmental footprint.  

Enhanced nuclear safety 

The design standards for new facilities provide for a greater level of containment of uranium-bearing material, and meet the nuclear-safety requirements in the Complementary Safety Assessments (CSA). Add Longrine interactive graphics on the containment barriers.

  • The main building is divided into over 200 rooms. It is designed to resist flooding and a safe-shutdown earthquake (SSE) and to withstand an extreme-design earthquake (SFE or “hard core”). It has independent ventilation and double-walled piping. 
  • The entire industrial process takes place in concrete buildings to nuclear standards. 
  • All sensitive equipment containing UF6 is clear of the water or watertight. 
  • The building for storing hydrofluoric acid is subject to specific containment.  

New technologies and innovative processes to enhance performance 

  • In terms of production:
    • The compartmentalization of the production buildings means the facilities are more available and allows optimized maintenance. 
    • The new facilities for producing fluorine by electrolysis include the latest improvements to the electrolyzers. 
    • A new UF4 / UF6 fluorination unit with a corresponding building for storing the uranium tetrafluoride, and a containment unit for storing containers of UF6 during cooling. 


  • In terms of environmental impact: 

    • Reduction in the consumption of chemicals. 
    • Uranium from liquid effluent is optimally recycled in the new treatment plant for uranium-bearing effluent. 
• 60% reduction in consumption of potassium salts. 
• 50% reduction in fluorine production. 
• 90% reduction in water consumption. 

George Besse II plant: the largest enrichment complex in Europe 

The Georges Besse II plant cost a total of 4 billion euros, and was inaugurated at the end of 2010. It has been operating at full capacity since the end of 2016. The new facility uses a completely different technology from the Eurodif production plant it replaces, and which is currently being dismantled. 

Centrifugation: the best-performing technology 

Orano Tricastin chose the centrifuge process to optimize the enrichment of uranium with isotope 235. The technique is well tried and performs well. Find out more on our Expertise page

Increase from the level of uranium 235 in natural uranium (0.7%): to 2 - 5% depending on the specification from the customer electricity company.

Greater production capacity 

With a yield of over 99%, the production of enriched uranium exclusively for civil use can supply the equivalent of 70 reactors across the world, and provide low-carbon electricity to around 90 million homes, equivalent to the combined population of France, Germany and the United Kingdom. 

Production capacity 7.5 million SWU

Significant gains at every level  

Controlled environmental impact 

Enrichment by centrifuge uses fifty times less electricity than enrichment by gaseous diffusion (50 MW compared with 2500 MW), and does not require water from the Rhône for cooling. Also, the buildings have half the height of that of the current factory and do not cause noise pollution, so that the Georges Besse II plant is well integrated into its environment. 

Better nuclear-safety performance 

The intrinsic characteristics of the centrifuge process (it uses small quantities of materials and runs in vacuo) keep the overall risks to a minimum. The structures also meet the post-Fukushima standards regarding natural disasters. 

Large dismantling projects

The dismantling of old facilities at the Tricastin site started in 1996. It involved mainly plants that had produced enriched uranium for French national defense purposes, on behalf of the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA). 

The dismantling program is still in progress as other facilities close, including the old Comurhex I conversion workshop (shut down in December 2017) and the Eurodif enrichment plant. The operations to dismantle Eurodif are scheduled to take 30 years, during which time all the industrial equipment will be taken down and broken up. 

Estimate for dismantling the Eurodif plant

  • 106,000 tons of conventional waste.
  • 205,000 tons of radioactive waste. 

Source : SFEN

By clicking “I accept Cookies”, you agree with the cookies use to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage and compile statistics. To get more information, please read our Cookies Policy in the Legal Notice