Enrichment processes at AREVA

The AREVA Georges Besse II plant uses a new uranium enrichment process: centrifugation. With this technology, Georges Besse II offers the best guarantees in terms of competitiveness, energy conservation, technical reliability and environmental impact.

Deployed in two units at the Tricastin site, the South Unit and the North Unit, Georges Besse II began producing its first commercial separative work units (SWU) in 2011.

Société d’Enrichissement du Tricastin (SET) operates the plant, replacing Eurodif’s Georges Besse plant, in operation at the Tricastin site since 1978.  The Georges Besse plant had enriched uranium by gaseous diffusion to meet the requirements of power generators. 

Centrifugation, a strategic choice

Two enrichment processes are currently used on an industrial scale:

Gaseous diffusion, which was used by AREVA at the Georges Besse plant until May 2012 and by the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC) in the United States. Centrifugation, used by Urenco in Western Europe (the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands), by Rosatom in Russia, by CNNC in China, by JNFL in Japan, and by  AREVAat the Georges Besse II plant and, in the future, at its Eagle Rock plant in the United States.Four major competitors control more than 95% of the world’s total installed uranium enrichment production capacity. AREVA supplies nearly one fourth of the world’s enrichment services.

Uranium enrichment is a strategic business for the group, the only player in the world to cover the entire nuclear fuel cycle. Competitiveness, energy conservation, technical reliability and low environmental impact… all these advantages make the centrifugation process perform better than the gaseous diffusion process.

As in the past, AREVA guarantees continuous deliveries over the very long term to its customers.

This position is further strengthened by the Group’s 2007 decision to build the Eagle Rock enrichment plant in the United States.

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