Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Advancing the nuclear enterprise through better computing

19.05.2010
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 to effectively address a range of nuclear energy- and security-related challenges

John Wagner, Technical Integration Manager for Nuclear Modeling within ORNL's Nuclear Science and Technology Division (NSTD), says one of the goals of his organization is to integrate existing nuclear energy and nuclear national security modeling and simulation capabilities and associated expertise with high-performance computing to solve problems that were previously unthinkable or impractical in terms of the computing power required to address them.

In the area of nuclear energy, the Nuclear Modeling staff specializes in developing and applying computational methods and software for simulating radiation in order to support the design and safety of nuclear facilities, improve reactor core designs and nuclear fuel performance, and ensure the safety of nuclear materials, such as spent nuclear fuel. The Nuclear Modeling staff is internationally known for developing and maintaining SCALE, a comprehensive nuclear analysis software package originally developed for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission with signature capabilities in the criticality safety, reactor physics and radiation shielding areas. In recent years, ORNL has placed an emphasis on transforming its current capabilities through high-performance computing, as well as the development of new and novel computational methods.

"Traditionally, reactor models for radiation dose assessments have considered just the reactor core, or a small part of the core," Wagner says. "However, we're now simulating entire nuclear facilities, such as a nuclear power reactor facility with its auxiliary buildings and the ITER fusion reactor, with much greater accuracy than any other organization that we're aware of." More accurate models enable nuclear plants to be designed with more accurate safety margins and shielding requirements, which helps to improve safety and reduce costs. The technology that makes this sort of leading-edge simulation possible is a combination of ORNL's Jaguar, the world's fastest supercomputer; advanced transport methods; and a next-generation software package called Denovo.

"At first we tried adapting older software to the task, but we abandoned that idea pretty quickly," says NSTD scientist and Denovo creator Tom Evans. As a result of that decision, Evans started from scratch to develop new software that is far more efficient at creating computer models on state-of-the-art supercomputers. Evans observes that, in some ways, Denovo is a synthesis of the last decade of research in the field. "Software for modeling radiation transport has been around for a long time," he says, "but it hadn't been adapted to build on developments that have revolutionized computational science. There's no special transformational technology in this software; but it's designed specifically to take advantage of the massive computational and memory capabilities of the world's fastest computers."

Denovo, which appropriately enough means "from new" or "from scratch" was recently awarded 8 million processor hours on the Jaguar supercomputer by the DOE Office of Science's Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program to develop a uniquely detailed simulation of the power distribution inside a nuclear reactor core. This simulation will be used to help to design the next generation of reactors by expediting experiments that can take years to conduct and to help to ensure that reactor designs are as efficient as possible.

Wagner notes that Denovo provides a fundamental capability for radiation transport modeling that continues to be expanded and applied to numerous ORNL projects. However, he is also quick to point out that these computer simulations will not completely eliminate the need for experimental or measurement data to confirm or "validate" the software. Instead, the new generation of nuclear modeling will increase confidence in the results using a more limited set of physical data. "We want to develop a predictive capability that has increased accuracy, reliability and flexibility," he says, "that can be used to improve our knowledge and understanding and increase our confidence in the decisions we make about design, safety, and performance of nuclear facilities. That's the goal."

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy Office's of Science.

Jim Pearce | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ornl.gov

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Astronomers release most complete ultraviolet-light survey of nearby galaxies
18.05.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht A quantum entanglement between two physically separated ultra-cold atomic clouds
17.05.2018 | University of the Basque Country

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

Im Focus: Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.

Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...

Im Focus: Light-induced superconductivity under high pressure

A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.

Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat

18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Keeping a Close Eye on Ice Loss

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

CrowdWater: An App for Flood Research

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>