This is a sources sought synopsis, and is not a Request for Proposal. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) is conducting a market survey and analysis to determine the range of available contractors that exists and assess their capabilities to assist the NRC with project work described below. The NRC does not intend to award a contract on the basis of this request or to otherwise pay for the information solicited.


Facsimile (301-492-3437) or email ( responses are acceptable or responses may be mailed to: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Attn: Claudia G. Melgar, Contract Specialist, Division of Contracts, MS TWB – 01-B10M, 12300 Twinbrook Parkway, Rockville, MD 20852.

The purpose of this announcement is to provide potential sources the opportunity to submit information regarding their capabilities to perform work for the NRC free of Organizational Conflict of Interest (OCOI). For information on NRC OCOI regulations, visit the NRC Acquisition Regulation Subpart 2009.5, entitled “Organizational Conflicts of Interest” ( All interested parties, including all categories of small businesses (small businesses, small disadvantaged businesses, 8(a) firms, women-owned small businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, and HUBZone small businesses) are invited to submit a response to the market research questions below and submit the capability information as described below. Submission of additional materials such as glossy brochures or videos is discouraged.


The NRC is responsible for the licensing and regulatory oversight of civilian nuclear power reactors and nuclear materials in the United States. The Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research (RES) furthers the regulatory mission of the NRC by providing technical advice, technical tools and information for identifying and resolving safety issues, making regulatory decisions, and providing regulations and guidance. RES conducts independent experiments and analyses, develops technical bases for supporting realistic safety decisions made by the agency, and in addition prepares the agency for the future by evaluating safety issues of current and new designs and technologies. RES develops its program with consideration of Commission direction and input from the program offices and other stakeholders.

RES maintains and develops the thermal-hydraulic system code TRAC/RELAP Advanced Computational Engine (TRACE), which is used for analyses of transients in operating reactors, analyses to support resolution of generic issues, evaluation of emergency procedures and accident management strategies, and supporting analyses for the certification of advanced reactor designs.

The TRACE code is subject to continual development and testing due to its reliance upon empirically based constitutive models. The need for development arises in two ways:

a) assessment results for an existing code model indicate that models have either a bias or uncertainty that affect the degree of realism and/or conservatism of the simulation, or b) a code model required for an important phenomenon, process, or system is not available. An example of the former is that the assessment of interfacial drag in rod bundles at low pressure conditions indicated that the TRACE model has a bias towards under-prediction of the core inventory. This bias would result in an overly conservative calculation for boil-off transients where the code would predict an early uncovery and higher than actual peak clad temperatures.

The proposed contract seeks experimental assistance for TRACE code development including numerical model development and code testing, benchmarking, and model implementation. The current request is associated with awarding the fourth such contract that has previously been awarded to Purdue University under the umbrella of the Thermal-hydraulic Institute (THI). THI has provided NRC staff with this developmental assistance under subsequent contracts,

since 1997. Recent task orders under the latest contract have concentrated on separate effects experiments to address agency generic issues (e.g., GSI-193) and other separate effects experiments to develop and validate models that allow the TRACE code to simulate proper liquid inventory in the chimney region of a boiling water reactor during loss of coolant transients. The work will include the carrying out of advanced experiments and modeling the complex behavior of two-phase fluid flow as it relates to very detailed processes that occur in nuclear power systems. Separate-effects experimental testing is generally used but integral systems testing may also be required.

Capability Sought:

The NRC is seeking to identify commercial organizations capable of providing experimental and modeling assistance in development of the TRACE thermal-hydraulic code. Specific capabilities would include extensive expertise in research in thermal hydraulics and reactor safety analysis involving studies of two-phase flow, heat transfer, phase change, coolant channel dynamics, and various other phenomena related to reactor safety, and the laboratory facilities that support this research. The organization may be requested to provide experimental facilities and tests results of certain phenomena needed by the agency. These advanced experiments would require engineering expertise to design and manufacture test equipment with advanced instrumentation, extract test results, assess and validate quality of test data, use that information to build or enhance existing models in the code, and provide code benchmarks of tests to show the improvement in code performance.

The organization would need to provide a very broad technical expertise and perform thermal-hydraulics nuclear reactor safety research for the NRC with areas of research including: intricate familiarization with modern two-phase fluid code architectures and languages, comprehensive knowledge and understanding of advanced two-phase fluid numerical methods, two-phase fluid model construction, experience with code constitutive models and correlations, graphical user interfaces, multiphase CFD, and the fundamental experimental requirements. RES will require highly qualified technical specialists with extensive expertise in the technical areas described.

The organization and its contractors must have extensive research experience with demonstrated knowledge of historical and current nuclear reactor thermal-hydraulic related systems code issues. The contractors should have in-depth knowledge in this technical area in order to independently identify and resolve issues. The contractor principle investigators should also be technically competence and creditable to participate in technical discussion and questions during periodic Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards reviews and presentations. The investigators must have appropriate levels of engineering education and experience commensurate with this level of research, and exhaustive knowledge of current and advanced Boiling Water Reactor, Pressurized Water Reactor, high temperature, and small modular reactor system designs and issues. Experience and participation with industry committees and/or advisory activities is also highly desired.

The organization also must have existing laboratories that are well equipped and capable of providing results of various reactor system two-phase fluid behaviors within a reasonable schedule. The facilities should consist of wide-ranging and extensive experimental loops to replicate various full-plant reactor systems or subsystems. The facilities should have advanced calibrated instrumentation systems supported by integrated computer data acquisition systems designed for studying nuclear thermal-hydraulics and the complexities of two-phase flow. The test loops shall be capable of simulating adiabatic flow as well as two-phase boiling with the potential to reach dryout conditions. The facility must have adequately-designed and robust instrumentation for monitoring and safe control of the thermal-hydraulic processes. The separate-effects test facilities may be required to provide flow visualization via high speed video and/or other specialized instruments to characterize and validate the desired phenomena. Integral facility system tests may also be required to reproduce certain reactor system safety issues. The investigators must be technically capable to compile and validate the test results and use these results to modify the TRACE code. The laboratory facilities also should be supported by or have ready access shop facilities.

Commercial organizations that are interested in supporting our technical assistance requirements should address in full the market research questions below and provide capability information on your staff’s qualifications and your firm’s corporate experiences and qualifications on similar contracts or efforts. In addition, to provide an overview of your company’s capabilities the company shall complete the attached spreadsheet for those technical areas for which your firm has expertise. When completing the spreadsheets, the company shall provide specific entries for potentially available qualified candidates. In each of the technical areas of expertise and education, if it applies, enter the candidates’ relevant years of work experience, research experience, national code committee (IEEE, ASME, ASTM) experience, code committee names, and degree title. 

Market Research Questions:

1) Organization name, address, email address, Web site address and telephone number

2) How long has your company been in operation?

3) What type of business is your company (i.e., small, 8(a), service-disabled veteran-owned, etc.)?

4) How many people does your company employ, including consultants? Please break down the mix between the two categories.

5) Describe teaming arrangements your company has formed to perform scopes of work outside your core competencies. Describe both the type of work and how you managed it.

6) Has your company previously faced organizational conflict of interest issues with NRC? How were they resolved?

7) List any companies or government agencies your company either plans to or has performed work for related to civilian nuclear reactors. Describe the work performed.

8) Although no geographic restriction is anticipated, if responding organizations are located outside the Washington Metropolitan area, indicate how the organization would coordinate with the NRC program office located in Rockville, MD to provide support to multiple sites.

9) Describe any other information your company deems relevant to NRC thermal-hydraulic and model development support for the TRACE code.

For questions No. 1 thru No. 9, please limit your response to no more than three pages total.