CASL Does First Full-scale Simulation of an Operating Nuclear Reactor

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This week the Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors (CASL) at ORNL announced that is has completed the first full-scale simulation of an operating nuclear reactor. Using supercomputers, CASL is modeling nuclear reactors to help researchers better understand reactor performance with the goal of ultimately increasing power output, extending reactor life, and reducing waste.

Using the CASL’s Virtual Environment for Reactor Applications (VERA) program, simulation results were compared with actual data provided by the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, which confirmed its accuracy.

VERA’s capabilities range from simulating single fuel pins to modeling an entire operational reactor core,” 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.”

These simulations are just a first step in VERA’s development. CASL is extending the program’s capability to simulate full power operation of the TVA reactor, which will require the integration of nuclear and thermal hydraulic physics in order to pursue breakthroughs in understanding key phenomena in reactor operations.

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