2016 News and Events

ARI Director Joins Roundtable Discussion of Illinois Tech and National Defense

The Chicago chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) hosted a roundtable discussion with leaders in the Illinois tech community.

ARI Hosts Workshop on Simulators for Nuclear Energy

In May 2016, The Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors (CASL) presented a two-day workshop on the Virtual Environment for Reactor Applications (VERA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

CASL was established by the Department of Energy in 2010 to help accelerate the research and development of simulation and modeling for the nuclear energy industry. The Consortium consists of ten founding partners and is led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). One of CASL’s modeling systems, VERA provides modeling and simulations to predict the performance of commercial nuclear power plants and to improve the performance of currently operating light water reactors. VERA is not a single piece of software, but a computational platform—a collection of tools used to solve for different physical phenomena (neutron transport, thermal-hydraulics, fuel performance, and coolant chemistry).

To test the effectiveness of VERA in its task to model nuclear reactor core depletion, the pellet-cladding interaction (PCI) in fuel rods, and operation under high local power variations, CASL turned to experts at UIUC. Under the direction of ARI research engineer Maria Jaromin, UIUC personnel will develop a 3D core model in the VERA Core Simulator (VERA-CS), develop a set of 2D BISON pins models representing a single assembly, and testing each code for stand-alone capability to simulate core depletion, the pellet-cladding interaction (PCI) in fuel rods, and operation under high local power variations. In addition, they will test compatibility and scaling of VERA on high-performance computing clusters. ARI is collaborating in this project with the Department of Nuclear Plasma and Radiological Engineering (NPRE) at the University of Illinois.

The workshop was preparation for these tasks. On the first day of the workshop Scott Palmtag (CASL), Brendan Kochunas (University of Michigan), and Shane Stimpson (ORNL) provided an overview of the VERA Core Simulator. On the second day, Stephen Novascone and Russell Gardner (Idaho National Laboratory) gave a presentation on BISON, a finite element-based nuclear fuel performance code.

The workshop was organized by Maria Jaromin and co-organized by Neal Davis from Computational Science and Engineering (CSE). Participating researchers were from ARI, CSE, NPRE, and the Nuclear Fuels Department at Exelon Corporation.

The nine-month project at ARI will be completed in early 2017. The information gained will be used by CASL to make improvements to the VERA platform. In addition, this assessment will provide a fresh perspective for platforms software developers.