To complete its mission and realize its vision, CASL has four strategic goals:

  • Address design, operational, and safety challenges for LWRs;
  • Develop and effectively apply modern virtual reactor technology;
  • Engage the nuclear energy community through modeling and simulation; and
  • Deploy new partnership and collaboration paradigms.

Each strategic goal is required to fulfill the CASL vision and mission. The goals are supported by a strategy made up of specific elements with an aggressive yet attainable plan of action.

Address Design, Operational and Safety Challenges for LWRs

CASL products and research results will demonstrate value added over current technology for application to important nuclear industry issues associated with design, operational and safety challenges of LWRs.

The U.S. government supports nuclear energy R&D to ensure it is a viable option for electrical energy generation, as it offers the fewer unfavorable environmental impacts and is powered by a fuel source having long-term availability. In addition, a U.S. leadership role in nuclear energy technology development offers an increased opportunity to impact international nonproliferation policies and increases the domestic nuclear energy industries’ competitiveness. For nuclear energy to be a significant part of the electrical energy generation mix, it must be economically attractive, have assured safety, and address high level waste management, all of which are also required for public support.

CASL supports the U.S. goal of increased nuclear power generation by providing enhanced simulation capabilities and by utilizing the developed capabilities to address specific problems. CASL is accomplishing this using Challenge Problems that address issues that are important to operating PWRs in the areas of fuel performance during normal operation, accident conditions, and plant lifetime extension. A number of these Challenge Problems are directly or indirectly applicable to other LWRs, such as BWRs and small modular reactors having an integral PWR design (SMR-iPWRs). CASL’s goal is to not only provide the modeling and simulation (M&S) capability to solve the specifically-defined Challenge Problems, but, by using a science-based approach, to also provide the capability to address other challenges either currently known or yet to be revealed.

Develop and Effectively Apply Modern Virtual Reactor Technology

CASL will develop advanced virtual reactor technology using modern software practices and subject the technology to rigorous verification, validation, and uncertainty quantification assessment while applying it to real-world nuclear reactor problems.

Development and application of VERA will result in an increase in cost-effectiveness, efficiency of design, and an enhanced engineering creativity:

  • More detailed analyses with better mechanistic models will support enhanced understanding that will lead to improved designs and materials; and
  • Design evaluations for normal operation and for selected limiting transients will result in higher fidelity and higher confidence assessments of design and operating margins.

The traditional reactor design and analysis process relies on tools that are not fully integrated and coupled. Use of these tools typically requires a sequential analysis of different areas of physics, such as reactor neutronics, core and system T-H, coolant chemistry, structural analysis and fuel performance. Since the analysis tools are not fully coupled, considerable expert manpower is expended in making multiple conservative assumptions to ensure a conservative design, resulting in increased energy cost. A major drawback is that if downstream analyses indicate the necessity of design modifications, the process must be restarted. A more comprehensive system afforded by VERA allows an integrated design cycle that can more adequately account for interactions between relevant physical phenomena.

Modern software development methodologies not only enable efficiency and responsiveness to evolving requirements but also assure quality, flexibility, extensibility, reuse of software, and development efficiency. Use of these methodologies in the development of VERA demonstrates their benefits and promotes their adoption by the wider nuclear enterprise.

Engage the Nuclear Energy Community through Modeling and Simulation

CASL will engage with the nuclear enterprise in a manner that fosters trust, confidence, acceptance and dependence on CASL-developed M&S capabilities.

For CASL to succeed, it must engage its core industry partners and other nuclear organizations in defining the functional requirements and use cases for VERA. To accomplish this, the nuclear enterprise must be engaged (e.g., through the CASL Industry Council (IC) to build trust, confidence, acceptance, and dependence. CASL’s engagement goal goes beyond building acceptance of CASL-developed M&S capabilities, but strives to build an appreciation for the benefits to be derived from the utilization of and reliance upon predictive simulation capabilities.

M&S technology is not only the 3rd tier of a valid science-based approach to solving problems (theory, experiment, simulation), but it also serves as an integration point for theory and experimental validation data to come together, or a focal point around which productive multi-institutional collaborations foster and grow.

Deploy New Partnership and Collaboration Paradigms

CASL will develop a shared vision, organizational structure and management plan, partnership agreements, and advanced technology for long-distance collaboration to support and nurture the deployment of new paradigms for integrating large, highly collaborative and creative teams that draw upon the unique RD&D strengths of government, industry and universities.

We envision CASL to be the archetype Center of Excellence that brings together and usefully engages leading experts from academia, federal agencies (DOE national laboratories), and industry – with parity in management, leadership, and technical responsibilities – to solve problems of national importance. For CASL, the charter is to develop VERA to analyze and address significant issues in LWR technology and operation. The resulting collective expertise provides greater assurance that industry relevant technical challenges are being addressed, existing state-of-the-art capabilities complemented by R&D advances are utilized, and the capabilities developed are evaluated and relied upon by industry.

To achieve this goal a number of developments are required:

  • Common vision embraced by all participants;
  • Organizational structure with clear lines of responsibility and product development focus;
  • Legal agreements addressing intellectual property access and ownership; and
  • Technology enabling engagement of leading subject matter experts without requiring physical relocation.