Research & Development

CASL executes its R&D in six technical Focus Areas (FA) and one integrating area (Collaboration and Ideation, or C&I) to develop and apply Virtual Environment for Reactor Applications (VERA) to facilitate solutions to industry-relevant problems.

  • Advanced Modeling Applications (AMA) - Provides the primary interface of CASL R&D with the applications related to existing physical reactors, the Challenge Problems, and full-scale validation. In addition, AMA will provide the necessary direction to models and methods development to be incorporated into VERA by providing the functional requirements, prioritizing the modeling needs, and performing assessments of capability. AMA also coordinates CASL interaction with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
  • Physics Integration (PHI) - Develops VERA tools integrating the models, methods, and data developed by other FAs within a software framework. PHI collaborates with AMA to deliver usable tools for performing design analyses, guided by the functional requirements developed by AMA.
  • Radiation Transport Methods (RTM) - Develops next-generation neutron transport simulation tools in VERA, which consist of: the primary development path based on 3D full-core discrete ordinates (Sn) transport/2D method of characteristics (MOC) transport; the legacy path based on full core, 2D MOC transport/1D diffusion or transport; and, the advanced development path based on hybrid Monte Carlo (MC).
  • Materials Performance and Optimization (MPO) - Develops improved materials performance models for fuels, cladding, and structural materials, and integrate those models into a fuel performance predictive capability, to provide better prediction of fuel and component failure. The science work performed by MPO will provide the means to reduce the reliance on empirical correlations and to enable the use of an expanded range of materials and fuel forms.
  • Validation and Uncertainty Quantification (VUQ) - Provides the quantification of uncertainties and associated validation of VERA models and integrated systems, which are essential to the application of modeling & simulation (M&S) to reactor designs. Improvements in the determination of operating and safety margins will directly contribute to the ability to uprate reactors and extend their lifetimes. The methods proposed under VUQ will significantly advance the state of the art of nuclear analysis and support the transition from integral experiments to the integration of small-scale separate-effect experiments.
  • Thermal Hydraulics Methods (THM) - Advances existing and develops new modeling capabilities for thermal hydraulics (T-H) analysis and its integration with solution environments deployed on large-scale parallel computers. The primary mission of THM is to deliver T-H components that meet the rigorous physical model and numerical algorithm requirements of VERA. THM collaborates closely with Materials Performance and Optimization (MPO) for sub-grid material and chemistry models, with RTM for coupling issues with radiation transport, and connects to virtual reactor integration (PHI) for integration and development of VERA.
  • Collaboration and Ideation (C&I) - CASL’s “virtual one-roof” approach is implemented through a management strategy that stresses physical collocation of a strong central leadership team, interdisciplinary collaboration, regular community-building activities, execution of a single milestone-driven plan by multidisciplinary teams with access to a broad talent base, and integration of interdependent projects. The Virtual Office, Community, and Computing (VOCC) team integrates existing and emerging technologies to provide CASL participants with state-of-the-art tools for collocation or distance collaboration. CASL’s virtual-one-roof strategy is dependent upon the development and maturation of the VOCC. The VOCC consists of a unique infrastructure integrated in a special way so as to promote collaboration and critical thinking. Critical thinking leads to insight, and insight leads to innovation. “Innovation at the speed of insight” means a more rapid deployment of predictive simulation capability to the nuclear industry. VOCC not only provides an environment for collaborative CASL development, but assists in demonstrating VERA and CASL associated capability to industry, new partners, and potential tool users.