For more than 40 years of contracts with the French Ministry of Defence (MoD) and prime contractors, NUCLETUDES has been responsible for hardening all nuclear French strategic systems.
Throughout this unique experience, NUCLETUDES has acquired an extensive background and expertise in understanding nuclear weapons effects on electronic systems and mechanical structures, defining nuclear environment requirements, assessing the vulnerability, and ultimately hardening systems.
For several years, this know-how has also been applied to study the hardening and vulnerability of :
- space systems and equipment (satellites,…),
- functional/electronic systems used in civil nuclear plants (equipment nuclearization),
- infrastructures (hardening with respect to lightning),
- systems that might be sensitive to the natural radiation environment (atmospheric neutrons) especially
when it comes to reliability (e.g. transportation means),
- systems that need to handle threats from directed energy weapons such as High Power Microwaves.
To perform these activities, NUCLETUDES addresses the following engineering domains :
- Transient Radiation Effects on Electronics (TREE) induced by the interaction of gamma rays and X rays
and neutrons with electronics,
- Single Event Effects (SEE) induced by the interaction of neutrons and heavy particles with electronics,
- Electromagnetic effects induced by the interaction of Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP), High Power Microwaves
and lightning with the system, and electromagnetic couplings induced by the interaction of X-rays with the system parts,
- Thermo-mechanical effects induced on structures by the intense energy deposition produced by X-rays or lasers.
To tackle all these aspects, NUCLETUDES has developed :
- dedicated engineering and modeling tools,
- a fully predictable methodology adapted to the industrial context (new development or modification
of an existing system) to reduce as much as possible unnecessary and late redesigns (« design to hardening »),
- a system approach to achieve a well balanced architecture of protections.
NUCLETUDES provides engineering and test services:
To prime contractors and system designers to help them design and implement hardening techniques at system level:
- Assessment of the effect of radiation and electromagnetic environments on reliability and security.
- Hardening requirement flow-down to subsystem and equipment levels.
- Protection architecture ; technology selection.
- Setting up of design rules and guidelines.
- Subsystem and system validation and qualification w.r.t electromagnetic and radiation environment.
To equipment designers and manufacturers:
- Parts selection and testing.
- Layout analysis and vulnerability/reliability/security assessment.
- Design modifications to improve the hardening performance and meet system requirements.
- Mock ups and prototypes validation and qualification.
Characterizing components under irradiative environment (neutrons, gamma-rays and X-rays, heavy ions) is the essence of the hardening process, as real time test provides irreplaceable results that no theoretical simulation can match.
NUCLETUDES operates its own set of test benches for photon illumination, and has access to nuclear test sites for performing protons, neutrons and heavy ions tests.