The Materials Aging Institute is a utility-oriented research center founded by EDF in 2008 and cofinanced by EPRI (US), KEPCO (J), CGNPC (CN), EDF Energy (UK), TEPCO (J), MHI (J), CRIEPI (J), CEA (F) and FRAMATOME (F). The main purpose of this collaborative effort is to bring together scientific skills and research facilities to address aging of material used in electric power plants, and particularly in nuclear power plants.

The MAI is led by EDF, which from the start invested heavily in dedicated experimental facilities, IT systems and a new building to house the MAI at EDF’s Les Renardières Research Centre, southeast of Paris, France. The Institute includes a state-of-the-art microscopy laboratory, video conferencing capability enabling global coverage, teaching facilities and offices to house both permanent staff and guest researchers. One of the core missions of the MAI is education and training. Courses on material aging are being developed and offered to graduate and postgraduate students as well as to working engineers in the nuclear industry. In addition, seminars and workshops are organized by the MAI to promote discussions and knowledge sharing on technical subjects. Currently, around 80 researchers and technicians are working on MAI projects, most of them permanent EDF employees.

The key purpose of the MAI is to direct efforts in research and development towards aging of material used in electrical power facilities. This initiative by the world’s biggest nuclear operators is motivated by the conviction that sharing research, experimental results, feedback and scientific information will significantly contribute to our understanding of the aging processes in various materials employed in both nuclear and non-nuclear power plants. The combination of operational know-how, experimental knowledge, and computer modelling of coupled processes can then be used to anticipate aging and henceforth increase the durability of material, components and structures. The institute is led by the French nuclear giant EDF, which upfront has heavily invested in equipment, computer power, but also in the construction of the MAI building on the EDF research site “Les Renardières”, southeast of Paris.