A software package, 10 years in the making, that can predict the behavior of nuclear reactors’ cores with stunning accuracy has been licensed commercially for the first time.
The nonprofit Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is the first to hold a commercial license for the Virtual Environment for Reactor Applications (VERA), a set of tools developed by the US Department of Energy’s Consortium for the Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors (CASL).
The VERA software suite is a collection of interfacing codes that can simulate reactor core behavior from the large-scale down to the molecular scale. VERA provides advanced modeling and simulation capabilities to help address several challenges, leading to improved performance and longer lifetimes for the current reactor fleet.
These include predictions of departure from nucleate boiling; growth of corrosion deposits on fuel rods; stress caused by pellet expansion; and performance of reactor parts when exposed to high temperatures and radiation.
VERA integrates physics components based on science-based models, state-of-the-art numerical methods, and modern computational science, and is verified and validated using data from operating PWRs, single-effect experiments, and integral tests. VERA is optimized for efficient execution on multiple platforms.
Last year, CASL brought the VERA software suite up to Nuclear Quality Assurance-1 level in preparation for widespread industry use. The NQA-1 rating, the gold standard for the nuclear industry, signifies extensive efforts in the areas of procedures, training and software control. (Earlier post.)
CASL is a partnership of the DOE national laboratories, universities and nuclear industry companies working together to find solutions to specific challenges of efficiently operating nuclear reactors. Based at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and established in 2010, CASL was the first DOE Energy Innovation Hub.
By licensing VERA to EPRI, CASL is delivering a first step in handing its work off to industry.—Dave Kropaczek, CASL director
As the 10-year CASL project winds down this spring, the program has established the VERA Users Group, which provides training, ongoing support and access to DOE’s high-performance computing resources to perform large-scale simulations.