Improved Nuclear Reactor Simulation for the Nuclear Renaissance


Updating the currently available nuclear reactor modelling and simulation programs is one of the key issues for a successful nuclear renaissance in the UK. The work will create an innovative contribution to the development steps for the UK national program in Digital Nuclear Reactor Design. It will be performed in close co-operation with specialists at the University of Liverpool, Virtual Engineering Centre and industrial partners to assure good guidance and understanding of the industrial demand for improved software solutions. The work will be performed at the inter-connection between modern software development and nuclear reactor technologies with access to advanced high performance computing and virtual engineering technologies. 

Details: For the safe and economic operation of the fleet of available and planned nuclear power reactors in the UK the computer codes for the fuel cycle management as well as the determination of important safety parameters play an important role. The safe and reliable operation of LWRs requires a detailed knowledge of safety parameters (spatial power distribution, the control rod worth, pin burnup etc). Nowadays, the neutronics calculations are typically performed at fuel assembly level using the diffusion approximation and assembly-homogenized material parameters. However, for the determination of the safety limits, which are based on local pin parameters, the knowledge of the power and temperature distribution on pin level is essential. This is achieved in current codes by an off-line pin power reconstruction, which is not ideal since feedback effects cannot be considered in this case. 

The methodologies for accurate prediction of the local safety parameters can be combined in a multi-scale and multi-methodological approach. This approach combines a transport solver using the real fuel assembly geometry reproduced on unstructured mesh with the boundary conditions extracted from the 3D full core nodal solution. The key aims of the PhD will be the coupling of the advanced transport solver into a nodal code respecting the requests of a licensing grade software tool. For this purpose a strategy for the cross section preparation for the resolved region handled with the transport code has to be developed. A major challenge is the development of a 2-dimensional interpolation scheme for an improved transfer of the boundary conditions from the nodal code to the transport code. The developed coupled code has to be verified and validated. 

The outcome will be part of a licensing grade software tool with advanced capabilities for coupled calculation of localized pin-wise safety parameters for the nuclear industry. The positive economic effect can be expected due to the reduction of modelling uncertainties following the best estimate strategy in nuclear engineering. 

For further details and to apply contact Eann Patterson (). Also see