Stable Isotopes Laboratory

Orano is developing a new non-nuclear activity: the production of stable isotopes. Due to their properties, these non-radioactive elements are used in medicine, the industrial sector and basic research (quantum computing and Big Science). This laboratory, which is the only one of its kind in France, has all the skills in chemistry and enrichment developed at the Tricastin platform at its disposal.
€ 15M
equity investment between 2020 and 2023
3.200 m²
surface area of the Stable Isotopes Laboratory (Laboratoire Isotopes Stables – LIS)
unique laboratory in France

What is a stable isotope?

Stable isotopes are non-radioactive forms of atoms. Even though they do not emit radiation, they have special properties and are used in a wide range of applications, notably as precursors for nuclear medicines, in scientific research, and in industrial fields. 80 of the 118 elements of the periodic table have stable isotopes.

Why produce stable isotopes

The production of stable isotopes makes use of Orano Tricastin's expertise in the purification, conversion and enrichment of uranium by the process of centrifugation. The new stable isotopes production unit has 3 main objectives:

  • Meet demand on cutting-edge strategic markets in industry, medicine or research, particularly by helping to create a national industrial production sector for the quantum industry;
  • Provide a French alternative to the world's two sole current suppliers;
  • Help to make use of technologies from the nuclear industry for purposes other than the production of electricity by creating expertise in France in isotope separation and the chemistry of elements other than uranium.

Orano Stable Isotope Laboratory

© Orano

The many applications of stable isotopes 

Several cutting-edge sectors have a need for ultra-pure elements and stable isotopes in particular. These rapidly developing sectors include:

  • The medical sector with mainly nuclear medicines for cancer treatment and diagnostics. These applications are still in development and are extremely promising in the treatment of cancer;
  • The research sector with in particular applications in the field of quantum computing, a rapidly developing field with a large number of applications, notably in biomedical research and basic research;
  • The industrial sector: for example, increased laser performance or the prevention of corrosion in the cooling circuits of nuclear power plants.

Orano Tricastin: 60 years of expertise in uranium chemistry and enrichment

The production of stable isotopes uses the same technologies and know-how as those developed for uranium over the past 60 years on the Tricastin site. With its workforce of 2,500 employees, an R&D center employing around fifty experts, and cutting-edge industrial facilities (the Philippe Coste plant for fluorine chemistry for the purposes of conversion, and the Georges Besse 2 plants using the latest centrifuge technology), the Tricastin industrial platform has all the skills required to produce stable isotopes.
The Stable Isotopes Laboratory project will provide a French alternative to the world's two sole current suppliers which are Urenco and Rosatom.

The key steps of the project

Timeline Laboratoire isotopes stables
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