CASL is committed to engaging the nuclear power industry to ensure its research is “used and useful” and positively contributes to the ability to generate safe, reliable, economical, and carbon-free electricity from nuclear power. In his visit to the CASL facilities at Oak Ridge in February, Energy Secretary Chu stated that he was impressed by the close association of the project with industry and the focus on solving real industry problems.
An important element of this industry engagement is the CASL Industry Council, which is comprised of representatives from the likely end users of CASL research, including nuclear fuel and reactor vendors, nuclear plant owners/operators, engineering service providers, simulator software and hardware providers, and information technology companies. There are currently 17 Industry Council member organizations, and the Department of Energy and CASL Board of Directors participate ex-officio. The Council is currently chaired by John Gaertner, technical executive at the Electric Power Research Institute and a member of the CASL management team.
The Council meets regularly – in person and via webcast – to discuss CASL research activities and to provide recommendations with respect to their applicability to commercial nuclear plant design and operation. The Council has offered experience, feedback and guidance, and its recommendations have effected meaningful changes in CASL deliverables.
The Council has undertaken several initiatives:
- Review and advise on the requirements document for the simulation environment CASL is developing for light water reactors, called the Virtual Environment for Reactor Applications, or VERA.
- Share details of industry analysis workflow processes corresponding to CASL challenge problems.
- Advise CASL on VERA deployment plans, including appropriate computer platforms, operating systems, software configurations, and data management schemes.
- Identify and support early technology deployment initiatives of VERA.
The Council established specific criteria for the pilot VERA applications through technology implementation projects, prepared by CASL's uniquely experienced and knowledgeable staff, using the research-based capabilities of VERA, and in conjunction with the National Lab's world-class computing capabilities.. They must address issues of current importance to industry, employ advanced modeling and analysis features, and have high potential for useful insights and results. CASL developed six candidate pilot projects in coordination with the Council members, and these candidates were then investigated by CASL’s advanced modeling applications focus area. CASL and the Council ranked these projects and, for the first VERA pilot, chose to model a design basis accident involving the recirculation flow of fibrous material in the reactor after a loss-of-coolant accident.