VERA nuclear reactor simulation software licensed for commercial use

27 March 2020

A software package developed by the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Consortium for the Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors (CASL) that can predict the behaviour of nuclear reactor cores with high accuracy has been licensed commercially.

The non-profit Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is the first to hold a commercial licence for the Virtual Environment for Reactor Applications (VERA), a set of tools, which was developed over ten years.

The VERA software suite is a collection of interfacing codes that can simulate reactor core behaviour from the large-scale down to the molecular scale.

“By licensing VERA to EPRI, CASL is delivering a first step in handing its work off to industry,” said Dave Kropaczek, CASL director.

EPRI's Erik Mader, a technical executive with EPRI Nuclear Fuels and executive director of the CASL Industry Council noted that VERA’s coupled multi-physics modelling and simulation tools could be used to better inform operating performance, safety margins and transient behaviour in nuclear plants.

"This could improve plant operator decision-making, reduce uncertainty and accelerate innovation in nuclear energy,” Mader said.

Specifically, VER provides advanced modelling and simulation capabilities including predictions of departure from nucleate boiling; growth of corrosion deposits on fuel rods; stress caused by pellet expansion; and performance of reactor parts when exposed to high temperatures and radiation.

Last year, CASL brought the VERA software suite up to NQA-1 standard in preparation for widespread industry use.

CASL is a partnership of DOE national laboratories, universities and nuclear industry companies working to enhance operational performance, efficiency and safety of light water reactors.

Based at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory CASL was established in 2010 as the first DOE Energy Innovation Hub.

As the ten-year CASL project winds down this spring, a VERA Users Group will provide training, ongoing support and access to DOE’s high-performance computing resources to perform large-scale simulations.

Photo: Members of VERA Users Group undergo training for the software suite last fall. Image courtesy of Carlos Jones/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, US DOE.

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