CASL milestone validates reactor model using TVA data

Jul 10, 2013
This CASL visualization shows the thermal distribution of neutrons in Watts Bar Unit 1 Cycle 1 reactor core at initial criticality, as calculated by the VERA program. Credit: Image courtesy of Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Today, the Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors (CASL) announced that its scientists have successfully completed the first full-scale simulation of an operating nuclear reactor. CASL is modeling nuclear reactors on supercomputers to help researchers better understand reactor performance with much higher reliability than previously available methods, with the goal of ultimately increasing power output, extending reactor life, and reducing waste.

Simulation results from the Virtual Environment for Reactor Applications (VERA) program, developed by CASL, were compared with actual data provided by the Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA) Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in Tennessee, which confirmed its accuracy.

"VERA's capabilities range from simulating single fuel pins to modeling an entire operational ," said Jess Gehin of Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Reactor and Nuclear Systems Division. "It addresses operational challenges and supports increased power generation by exploring greater efficiency and life extensions."

During cycle startup of commercial nuclear power reactors, technicians perform a series of tests to confirm the reactor is operating as expected. For CASL, results of previous tests are useful for demonstrating the accuracy of the VERA software. As a CASL partner, TVA provided detailed historical information and measured operational data from the Watts Bar plant to allow comparisons of the VERA simulation.

The simulations of the reactor startup tests are just a first step in the demonstration of VERA. CASL is extending the program's capability to simulate full power operation of the TVA , which will require further VERA development to integrate the nuclear and thermal hydraulic physics. These additional capabilities will allow researchers to pursue breakthroughs in understanding key phenomena in the operating reactors.

CASL, headquartered at ORNL, is one of the Department of Energy's Energy Innovation Hubs. First established in 2010, CASL brings together industry, academia, and national labs to provide advanced modeling and simulation solutions for commercial reactors. Its mission is to confidently predict the performance of nuclear reactors through comprehensive science-based modeling and simulation technology that is deployed and applied broadly throughout the nuclear energy industry to enhance safety, reliability and economics.

The Hub's 10 core partners include: the Electric Power Research Institute, Idaho National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, North Carolina State University, Sandia National Laboratories, Tennessee Valley Authority, University of Michigan, Westinghouse Electric Company and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. More information about CASL is available at http://www.casl.gov.

Explore further: How the hummingbird achieves its aerobatic feats

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

SHARP could slash nuclear reactor design costs

Nov 16, 2012

Back in the earliest days of nuclear energy, Argonne physicists and engineers used slide rules and their own basic knowledge of reactions and physics to design nuclear power plants. Then, beginning in the ...

French nuclear designers tap American expertise

Jun 11, 2013

The world's nuclear experts have reached out to U.S. Department of Energy engineers for help evaluating a new nuclear reactor design that could increase safety margins while reducing waste.

Advancing the nuclear enterprise through better computing

May 18, 2010

Scientists at the Nuclear Science and Technology Division of the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) are merging decades of nuclear energy and safety expertise with high-performance computing ...

Small fire stops Swedish nuclear reactor

Oct 23, 2011

A small fire in a turbine hall shut down a Swedish nuclear reactor overnight but the blaze was swiftly extinguished, nuclear power plant officials said Sunday.

Recommended for you

Ultra-short X-ray pulses explore the nano world

2 hours ago

Ultra-short and extremely strong X-ray flashes, as produced by free-electron lasers, are opening the door to a hitherto unknown world. Scientists are using these flashes to take "snapshots" of the geometry ...

Measuring NIF's enormous shocks

7 hours ago

NIF experiments generate enormous pressures—many millions of atmospheres—in a short time: just a few billionths of a second. When a pressure source of this type is applied to any material, the pressure ...

How the hummingbird achieves its aerobatic feats

Nov 23, 2014

(Phys.org) —The sight of a tiny hummingbird hovering in front of a flower and then darting to another with lightning speed amazes and delights. But it also leaves watchers with a persistent question: How ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.