Zirconium is a key metal for production of nuclear fuel as cladding tubes represent the first containment barrier for U pellets. CEZUS, an AREVA NP subsidiary makes seamless cladding and thimble zirconium alloy tubes and endplug barstock and spacer / water channels strips material for all types of reactor, including pressurized water reactors (PWRs)and boiling water reactors (BWRs. Zirconium alloy materials are used for the skeletons of fuel assemblies as well as to make the sealed tubes enclosing the fuel pellets.
CEZUS masters all aspects of zirconium metallurgy, from conversion of zircon, the ore of zirconium, to production of a variety of zirconium products. It is the world market leader, with a 35% share of the Western market. It exports above 50% of its production. Cezus also operates the ANF tubing facility in Duisburg (Germany).
CEZUS is also the world's largest producer of hafnium, an exotic metal separated from zirconium, which is used as neutron absorber in nuclear reactors and as a grain refiner for superalloys used in the aeronautics and space industry.