Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Argonne's nuclear energy research moves toward greater reliance on computer simulation

29.11.2007
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory is taking its nuclear energy research into new territory – virtual territory that is.

With the recent arrival of the new IBM Blue Gene/P and the lab’s development of advanced computer models, Argonne has a critical role in making it possible to burn repeatedly nuclear fuel that now sits as waste, thus closing the nuclear fuel cycle and reducing the risk of nuclear proliferation.

The move toward greater reliance on computer simulation and modeling to conduct nuclear energy research is a progressive trend seen in other areas of scientific research supported by DOE.

"High-speed supercomputers are increasingly tackling difficult problems that could once be addressed only in a laboratory setting," Argonne Director Robert Rosner said.

"The traditional approach to developing nuclear energy technologies is to do a bunch of experiments to demonstrate a process or reaction," said Mark Peters, deputy to the assistant laboratory director of applied science and technology and Argonne’s program manager for the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. "What Argonne is doing is creating a set of integrated models that demonstrate and validate new technologies, using a smaller number of experiments."

Moreover, "advanced simulation can greatly reduce facilities' costs by allowing us to better identify and target the physical experiments which underlie their design," said Andrew Siegel, a computational scientist at Argonne and the lab’s nuclear simulation project leader.

Siegel and a team of Argonne computational scientists are in the throes of refining computer codes that will eventually be used to conduct the underlying scientific research that will support the development of next generation nuclear systems such as advanced fast reactors, Siegel said. "We will use advanced simulation to improve and optimize the design and safety of advanced fast reactors," he said.

The Sodium Fast Reactor (SFR) design, which was born at Argonne, is a key part of President Bush’s Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, a strategy that will significantly reduce the radioactivity and volume of waste requiring disposal and reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation. SFR designs are safe, capable of reducing the volume and toxicity of nuclear waste, and economically competitive with other electricity sources.

Using internal lab funding initially and GNEP funding more recently, Argonne computational scientists are designing a modern suite of tools called SHARP – Simulation-based High-efficiency Reactor Prototyping, Siegel said. The SHARP toolkit is a collection of individual software components that digitally mimic the physical processes that occur in a nuclear reactor core, including neutron transport, thermal hydraulics and fuel and structure behavior, Siegel explained.

SHARP has been developed to fully leverage Argonne’s new Advanced Leadership Computing Facility, which is made up of the Blue Gene/P, an IBM computer that is designed to operate at a sustained rate of 1-petaflop per second and capable of reaching speeds of 3 petaflops.

SHARP will build upon and may eventually replace existing computer codes that are used to conduct safety evaluations of today’s portfolio of aging nuclear power reactors. Furthermore, those older codes, while adequate for evaluating the scoping designs of next generation reactors, are not as well-equipped to validate the performance of new reactor concepts now under design, Siegel said. A simulation tool like SHARP, which is being written specifically to test SFR design concepts, have the potential to shave off millions of dollars in reactor design development and construction, he said.

The kind of modeling and simulation work taking place at Argonne in support of the development of advanced nuclear energy systems is not by accident. "We see Argonne as the one place that can pull off the creation of advanced simulation tools that will be able to successfully replace some types of experiments," Siegel said.

The reason: Argonne has the biggest concentration of scientists involved in fast reactor design and fuel reprocessing technologies – expertise that is essential to refining SFR design concepts. "This is the center of brain power for nuclear energy research," Siegel said. Moreover, Argonne’s nuclear engineers and chemical engineers have already been collaborating with the lab’s computer scientists to develop precise computer simulations of the process of physical changes that would occur in an SFR, as well as other important aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle (e.g., separations and processing technologies).

Angela Hardin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.anl.gov

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Patented nanostructure for solar cells: Rough optics, smooth surface
18.09.2018 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie GmbH

nachricht With Gallium Nitride for a Powerful 5G Cellular Network - EU project “5G GaN2” started
17.09.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Festkörperphysik IAF

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Scientists present new observations to understand the phase transition in quantum chromodynamics

The building blocks of matter in our universe were formed in the first 10 microseconds of its existence, according to the currently accepted scientific picture. After the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago, matter consisted mainly of quarks and gluons, two types of elementary particles whose interactions are governed by quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of strong interaction. In the early universe, these particles moved (nearly) freely in a quark-gluon plasma.

This is a joint press release of University Muenster and Heidelberg as well as the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt.

Then, in a phase transition, they combined and formed hadrons, among them the building blocks of atomic nuclei, protons and neutrons. In the current issue of...

Im Focus: Patented nanostructure for solar cells: Rough optics, smooth surface

Thin-film solar cells made of crystalline silicon are inexpensive and achieve efficiencies of a good 14 percent. However, they could do even better if their shiny surfaces reflected less light. A team led by Prof. Christiane Becker from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) has now patented a sophisticated new solution to this problem.

"It is not enough simply to bring more light into the cell," says Christiane Becker. Such surface structures can even ultimately reduce the efficiency by...

Im Focus: New soft coral species discovered in Panama

A study in the journal Bulletin of Marine Science describes a new, blood-red species of octocoral found in Panama. The species in the genus Thesea was discovered in the threatened low-light reef environment on Hannibal Bank, 60 kilometers off mainland Pacific Panama, by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama (STRI) and the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR) at the University of Costa Rica.

Scientists established the new species, Thesea dalioi, by comparing its physical traits, such as branch thickness and the bright red colony color, with the...

Im Focus: New devices based on rust could reduce excess heat in computers

Physicists explore long-distance information transmission in antiferromagnetic iron oxide

Scientists have succeeded in observing the first long-distance transfer of information in a magnetic group of materials known as antiferromagnets.

Im Focus: Finding Nemo's genes

An international team of researchers has mapped Nemo's genome

An international team of researchers has mapped Nemo's genome, providing the research community with an invaluable resource to decode the response of fish to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

One of the world’s most prominent strategic forums for global health held in Berlin in October 2018

03.09.2018 | Event News

4th Intelligent Materials - European Symposium on Intelligent Materials

27.08.2018 | Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Glacial engineering could limit sea-level rise, if we get our emissions under control

20.09.2018 | Earth Sciences

Warning against hubris in CO2 removal

20.09.2018 | Earth Sciences

Halfway mark for NOEMA, the super-telescope under construction

20.09.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>