[Flamanville EPR Series] Drone Tour of the 57th Reactor in the French Nuclear Fleet

It’s now official: Flamanville 3 has become the 57th reactor in the French nuclear fleet. What better way to appreciate the intricacies of the new EPR than with a drone video? Stay tuned for 2 minutes—it’s worth your time!

After a week of fuel loading into the EPR’s vessel, this phase is now complete. A total of 241 fuel assemblies, each about 5 meters tall and weighing nearly 800kg, were transferred one by one underwater in the pool to the vessel. This meticulous step was made possible thanks to EDF’s expertise in handling fuel assemblies, Framatome’s teams for neutron monitoring of the reactor core, and REEL, which ensured continuous control of machinery functions throughout the operations.

In total, “150,000 pieces of equipment and all the circuits of the EPR were rigorously checked and conditioned, and more than 58,000 operational criteria were tested,” according to industry professionals, to ensure the operations were carried out under the best conditions.

Alain Morvan, Flamanville 3 project manager, summarizes this immense process in a LinkedIn post and reflects on this extraordinary experience. He is proud to have been surrounded by his teams who made the realization of this project possible: “As project director since early 2020, it is a pride to have lived through the EPR adventure and followed so many activities to bring the reactor to maturity, thanks to the unwavering commitment of the women and men who have worked on this project for many years. It is their unyielding determination that has allowed us to begin the commissioning of Flamanville 3.”

To celebrate, the EDF teams offer us a stunning video of the interior of the reactor building, which can be found on the X account of Xavier Ursat.

EPR Startup

Following the logical sequence of reactor startup operations, the vessel will soon be sealed and the equipment of the vessel cover will be connected. Next will come the gradual increase in temperature of the primary circuit to reach 303°C under 155 bars of pressure. Subsequently, divergence can be initiated in the following weeks to perform a gradual power ramp-up of the reactor up to 25% of its nuclear power.

The EPR is expected to be finally connected to the electrical grid by the summer of 2024 and will continue its step-by-step increase to 100% of its power before the end of the year to deliver its 1600 MWe of electrical power. The ASN will be alongside EDF during all these stages to monitor and validate each one. ■

By François Terminet (Sfen)

Photo: Inside the EPR Fla3 reactor vessel with loaded fuel assemblies, Source: ©EDF