Fulfillment of the CASL mission of providing and applying its advanced modeling & simulation (M&S) capabilities, articulated through its vision of predicting the safe, reliable and economic performance of light water reactors, is predicated on the acceptance by the nuclear community of the key CASL product, i.e. VERA, and its integration into practice.
Four major stakeholders and their associated functions define the nuclear community:
- U.S. DOE Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) for their advancement of nuclear power;
- U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for safety reviews and licensing;
- R&D community for identification, development, and integration of advanced technologies; and
- Nuclear industry for application and implementation of safe and economically sound solutions.
CASL will share information and resources with professionals and programs that can assist other DOE programs to provide timelier, less expensive, and better solutions to needs and issues. Likewise, sharing of information and resources by other DOE programs will assist CASL in achieving its goals. This will be particularly true in the area of experimental data for validation.
Primarily, coordination will be with the programs within DOE NE, DOE Office of Science, and the National Nuclear Security Administration. The goal is to facilitate communications and cooperative R&D with other DOE R&D programs, as well as to identify important programmatic areas where CASL can fill needed gaps with changes in scope relative to its original (July 2010) program plan.
The DOE Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) R&D Roadmap has organized its activities in accordance with four objectives that ensure nuclear energy remains a compelling and viable energy option for the United States. The objectives are as follows:
- Develop technologies and other solutions that can improve the reliability, sustain the safety, and extend the life of the current reactors;
- Develop improvements in the affordability of new reactors to enable nuclear energy to help meet the Administration’s energy security and climate change goals;
- Develop sustainable nuclear fuel cycles; and
- Understand and minimize risks of nuclear proliferation and terrorism.
CASL’s main focus is currently on supporting the achievement of Objectives 1 and 2.
CASL will interact, coordinate, and leverage modeling and simulation activities with primarily the following DOE-NE R&D programs:
- Light Water Reactor Sustainability (LWRS);
- Nuclear Energy Advanced Modeling and Simulation (NEAMS); and
- Small Modular Reactors (SMR).
Other DOE-NE R&D programs that CASL will keep cognizant of their activities but does not at this time foresee substantial interactions are as follows:
- Fuel Cycle R&D (FCRD);
- Advanced Reactor Concepts (ARC); and
- Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP).
The Office of Science R&D programs have synergistic interests with CASL. Cooperation will be pursued as necessary, for the programs listed below, both for current scope and future scope extension areas:
- Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRC):
- Center for Materials Science of Nuclear Fuel (INL);
- Energy Frontier Center for Defect Physics in Structural Materials (ORNL);
- Extreme Environment-Tolerant Materials via Atomic Scale Design of Interfaces (LANL); and
- Materials Science of Actinides (ND).
- Exascale Co-Design Centers:
- Center for Exascale Simulation of Advanced Reactors (CESAR) (ANL);
- Center for Materials in Extreme Environments (LANL); and
- Combustion Exascale Co-Design Center (SNL).
To be noted is that many of these centers are affiliated with CASL partners which are facilitating communication of results from these centers to CASL.
NNSA has an extensive history and experience in advanced simulation programs that are relevant to CASL. CASL will benefit from mature simulation capabilities already developed in the following programs:
- Advanced Simulation and Computing Program (ASC); and
- Naval Reactors (NR).
CASL engagement with ASC is primarily through CASL’s LANL and SNL partners, with a number of CASL PIs being also ASC’s PIs and several CASL employed physics simulation codes originating from ASC. CASL engagement with NR will be more challenging due to security restrictions. Areas of potential collaboration that were identified during a joint CASL-NR meeting include stochastic radiation transport modeling, CFD modeling, and common needs for validation data.
A necessary requirement for ultimate adoption of CASL-developed solutions and M&S technology is regulatory acceptance and concurrence. To secure this acceptance, VERA must have formal software quality assurance (SQA) processes in place to permit independent external review. Additionally, a comprehensive V&V program (like the CASL VUQ FA) must be evident so that regulatory authorities gain sufficient confidence in the methods and tools developed. To achieve this objective, CASL works closely with its stakeholders (both industry and regulatory experts) to ensure its products are developed in a manner that addresses critical issues in the regulatory decision making process.
The CASL strategy for licensing is to interface regularly (quarterly) with the NRC Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research (RES) for collaborative discussion and interchange about CASL R&D scope and the use of advanced M&S for nuclear reactors. Specific exchange and feedback is targeted on VERA software infrastructure and components, phenomenological models, numerical methods, and V&V and UQ. This helps to provide guidance on development of the key elements of VERA and supporting the eventual use of CASL tools by industry for licensing-related analyses. CASL will work within constraints in these interactions to avoid any conflict of interest issues.
As CASL advances the state of the art in M&S, a full engagement of the entire research community is necessary to assure that CASL developed insights and capabilities are broadly communicated and accepted, and that organizations and individuals not directly supported by CASL become engaged in advancing CASL goals (e.g., through DOE-NE Nuclear Energy University Program grants). This engagement is accomplished through:
- Direct collaboration with individual researchers who can extend competences (presently researchers from non core members are part of CASL);
- Collaboration with other government-funded organizations;
- Interactions with the CASL Science Council;
- Presentation of results at technical society meetings and research institutions; and
- Publication of results in technical journals and proceeding.
Acceptance of CASL produced technology will be measured by adoption of the VERA software package and analysis methods by industry stakeholders. These stakeholders primarily include nuclear reactor and fuel vendors, and LWR plant owner/operators.
CASL needs to provide significant capabilities that extend beyond the current state of the art approaches applied today to achieve broad acceptance of its software products and methods. Examples of outcomes that will be required to achieve a wide level of industry acceptance include:
- Provide capability to analyze problems that cannot be addressed using current approaches/technologies;
- Provide capability to perform more accurate and/or comprehensive analyses of issues, so that better and more timely decisions can be made with greater confidence;
- Provide capability to perform analyses of issues in a manner that is significantly faster, and/or requires fewer resources, than can be achieved using current approaches/technologies; or
- Provide capabilities to address potential future issues or opportunities such as those that may occur due to plant power uprates, life extension or modernization.
Increased adoption of CASL tools will be achieved through experience with CASL test stands, participation in pilot projects, participation in collaborative applications, interface with the CASL User’s Group, and technical collaborations during the CASL development process. Growth in applications of CASL technology will be assured by continual interface with end-users to ensure compatibility to their business and technical objectives, facilitated through the Industry Council. Delivery of educational, materials and training courses will also facilitate the use of CASL tools.