An experimental tool for the Simulation programme, intended to ensure the reliability and safety of nuclear weapons without having to resort to the testing that France has renounced since 1996, the Megajoule Laser is used to validate certain physical models under temperature and pressure conditions that had previously been inaccessible in the laboratory and close to the ones encountered in a real life situation.
CNIM’s has been involved in the Megajoule Laser project since 1999, by providing this programme with access to its skills as a mechanical engineering company with a strong focus on manufacturing.
As the main contractor for the ECM contract, CNIM is managing a partnership with 10 companies that are working closely on the development, production and integration of the infrastructures, constraints and operational equipment in the test chamber.
In 2007, this Consortium was entrusted with the turnkey production of the entire ECI system, including the main components of the infrastructure and notably the supporting pedestal for the Test Chamber.
After a beginning development phase, the initial equipment, primarily supports and constraints, are starting to be integrated into the Test Chamber (heart of the installation), while the process equipment and maintenance tools are entering the production phase at CNIM and Bertin.
After an initial re-design phase for the SCF, under the direction of the CEA, CNIM delivered a qualified prototype in 2008.
In late 2009, the CEA/DAM awarded the SCF Project Management contract to CNIM. To begin with, this includes the equipping of 22 laser chains, i.e. a series of 44 units. The technological challenges involved designing and producing mechanical structures that are simultaneously lightweight, rigid and stable, capable to supporting, moving and directing optical components, measuring probes and targets with micronic precision.