Orano's new Centre for Innovation in Extractive Metallurgy (Centre d'Innovation en Métallurgie Extractive, CIME) facility at its Bessines-sur-Gartempe site in the New Aquitaine region of France has been inaugurated by French Prime Minister Jean Castex. The new facility - one of the group's main R&D centres - will host industrial pilot tests for Orano projects under development, in particular for the recycling and recovery of radioactive and non-radioactive materials.

The inauguration of the new CIME facility by Prime Minister Jean Castex (left) and Orano CEO Philippe Knoche (Image: Orano)

The inauguration ceremony took place in the presence of the Minister Delegate for Transport Jean-Baptiste Djebbari and representatives of the region. During his visit, Castex viewed the CIME facilities as well as the scientific and technical solutions it is working on to meet the needs of customers in the fields of energy, the environment, industrial recycling, health, minerals and ores processing and engineering.

Construction of the new 8300-square-metre facility started in March 2019, and it was commissioned on 17 May this year. The facility consists of a 1000-square-metre pilot hall, and numerous laboratories equipped with hundreds of containment elements such as fume hoods and extraction arms. The building meets safety and radiation protection standards, most notably with the implementation of numerous air treatment and containment systems for high-risk areas.

Orano said the new CIME facility - representing an investment of more than EUR30 million (USD35 million) - will enable the group "to benefit from a cutting-edge environment to further intensify its support for its customers and to continue its diversification around innovative projects in the fields of energy transition and the circular economy."

The CIME is developing processes for the treatment of wastewater - including from mines - taking environmental quality standards into account, from the laboratory phase through to the semi-industrial pilot and industrialised water treatment solution.

Two industrial pilots will be deployed on the site to test the recycling process for materials contained in electric vehicle batteries. This project received support from the France Relance recovery plan, announced last September, for an amount of EUR6.1 million, and from the Nouvelle Aquitaine region.

Orano Chairman Claude Imauven said: "CIME lies at the heart of the industrial fabric of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region and we are proud of our longstanding regional presence. The sites and plants of our nuclear industry are a great asset for enabling an industrial and economic revival in keeping with today's climate objectives."

Philippe Knoche, CEO of Orano, added: "The investments for our new innovation centre have enabled us to definitively transform a former mining site into a technological centre of excellence, with all the backing of the Orano group's skills in industrial, mining and medical research."

CIME was formed in 2018 through the renaming of Orano's Research, Processes and Analyses Department (Service Etudes de Procédés et Analyses, SEPA), which had been located at Bessines-sur-Gartempe - a former uranium mining and processing site - since 1980.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Wednesday, 22 September 2021
Original article: world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/New-Orano-research-centre-inaugurated