Realising the Commercial Potential of the Multi-Physics and Multi-Scale FETCH Technology for Nuclear Safety Applications

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Earth Science and Engineering

Abstract

This project will deliver, as a commercial product, a novel multi-physics computational model FETCH. FETCH is used primarily for the design and safety analysis of nuclear systems. It is a coupled radiation transport and fluid dynamics numerical model developed by the Applied Modelling and Computation Group at Imperial College with the support of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The current version of the code has been commercially used in a range of applications including: safety assessments; design of nuclear reactors; and criticality safety evaluation in nuclear fuel processing. However, it has had little uptake because of the lack of user-friendliness and documentation. The commercial potential of this project arises from the following:a) model flexibility and usability - the model was originally designed to be highly general and this has became a paradigm in the group's overall approach to software engineering driven code development; b) our code pre-releases have been used by industry in short and medium-term research contracts with excellent feedback from them which provides confidence in our novel and flexible model e.g., able to deal with complex geometries and highly computational demanding problems; c) a current lack of analogous, high-quality software in the market able to deal with very demanding types of multi-physics problems common in the nuclear industry and d) new industrial-academic avenues for research, design, safety regulations, commissioning and decommissioning of reactors due to the nuclear 'renaissance'. Industrial contacts have identified a suite of benchmarking tests that are required to gain the necessary confidence for a full commercial exploitation of FETCH. Therefore benchmarking will be carried out through a detailed, reproducible comparison between the new release of the code against experimental data, analytical solutions and other commercial codes. Diagnostics tools will be introduced into the FETCH code to improve usability for practitioners. Business development workshops (with existing industrial and academic collaborators) will evaluate these outputs, identify potential marketing strategies and develop a detailed business plan for commercialisation at an international scale.

Planned Impact

This project will deliver an innovative software package - the FETCH computational model, developed for the design and safety analysis of nuclear systems. The current version of the software package has been commercially used in a wide range of nuclear systems including: criticality safety assessment in low-power fissile solutions and hypothetical geological waste repositories, design of reactors, safety evaluation in fuel processing. A number of nuclear companies have placed contracts with us and although the end-product had an excellent acceptance, issues regarding the lack of the software's user-friendliness and documentation were raised and need to be tackled. Therefore, as a medium-term strategy to enable the academic and commercial software dissemination within the nuclear sector we need to: (a) Further develop a new user-friendly front-end; (b) Include comprehensive documentation of the modules in FETCH; (c) Develop diagnostic tools specifically designed for the nuclear industry; (d) Enable the use of third-party mesh generators; (e) Further develop model and software quality assurance procedures focused on the nuclear industry requirements. This project delivers a step-change improvement in the ability of the FETCH software package for the design of nuclear reactor cores and safety assessment for nuclear systems. This work will impact upon the following (potential market): 1) Consulting companies: with an interest in using the new technologies to support decision making and prediction of nuclear systems, including reactors and criticality safety. The new technologies could help inform the design of passive safety systems. 2) Engineers: would benefit from the availability of tools that could be used to optimise designs in nuclear engineering. 3) Designers in companies/industries: would benefit from the optimisation control approach used in design optimisation (e.g. fuel enrichment, control rods positioning for controlling reactivity). 4) Environmental Safety agency: would benefit from improved predictability in modelling criticality safety, thus this work could be also used to assess strategies to reduce the risk of potential accidents. 5) Government security bodies: the technology proposed here could provide a tool in the design and implementation of effective emergency response actions in the case of criticality accident scenarios. 6) Government regulatory bodies: could use this technology to inform policy makers, risk reduction strategies for the UK. The investigators of this proposal have considerable experience in knowledge exchange and commercial exploitation of their work. This will help to exploit the project results, with an expected high national and international impact. Planned activities to ensure good engagement and communication with potential beneficiaries include: a) Technical workshop to communicate the FETCH-SAC members of the computational developments (software engineering). Industrial and academic collaborators may help establishing suitable benchmark test-cases to improve the confidence on the model; b) Training events on the outputs of this proposal and the resulting open-source model: this will help engage academic and industrial collaborators on the use of the FETCH model and feedback to improve the usability and documentation; c) Commercial workshop to communicate the FETCH-SAC members our progress on the FETCH validation against standard benchmarks initially proposed by the industrial collaborators. d) Visits to UK and international industry/academia. Over the last ten years, Serco Assurance has collaborated with AMCG on criticality safety analysis. They have demonstrated a strong interest in including FETCH as part of their commercial nuclear software suite (see letter of support). Through this project, Serco will provide a stronger link with the nuclear industry in UK and will supply potential benchmark test cases for reactor physics calculations.
 
Description The main objective of this project was to deliver a user friendly, robust, flexible, adaptable and scalable version of the multiphysics (radiation, fluids and solids) FETCH computational model. At the start of the project there existed a FETCH version that consisted of the user interface GEM, the radiation model EVENT and a branch of the fluids model Fluidity. There then also existed another branch of Fluidity available as open source that the user interacted with through the GUI Diamond. The open source version of Fluidity had in the previous five years undergone full re-development such as to provide a generic and flexible numerical framework. This development also included research into novel numerical methods and applications. Features of the open source Fluidity that where desired to be included in a version of FETCH included the automated friendly GUI Diamond with the associated internal options manager SPUD, a parallel capability scaling to the national supercomputer level (Hector), anisotropic mesh optimisation, generic and flexible diagnostic tools, detailed documentation, an automated test harness to assert confidence in verification and validation and a high degree of computational and mathematical abstraction. The main outcome of this project is a new version of FETCH built within the open source Fluidity framework. This involved the development of a suitable simplified radiation model, which is not available as open source, that overall, forms a framework for the future integration of the RADIANT model into FETCH. The features of FETCH that were acquired as an outcome of this project are: 1) A user friendly interface via the automated GUI Diamond. 2) A parallel and spatially adaptive multiphysics (fluids, solids and simplified radiation) transient model. 3) A test suite comparing to analytic solutions and established industrial codes. This includes international benchmarks. 4) The use of robust diagnostic tools as well as a flexible Python interface with in Diamond for generic diagnostic analysis. 5) A generic methodology for coupling the radiation model to the fluids multiphase-multimaterial model for improved flexibility. 6) The use of third party mesh generators that are linked to CAD models, permitting complex domains such as nuclear reactors to be modelled. 7) Improved range of numerical discretisation methods applicable to the both the radiation, fluids and solids components of the model. 8) A direct one way linking from the SERCO commercial reactor physics code WIMS9 for ease or use and robustness. 9) A user guide that builds upon the open source Fluidity version. A training day into the development and use of FETCH was also held. This was timed to follow a 3 day training day on the open source Fluidity. This was attended by 10 people that came from both academia and industry. The latter included two senior professionals from SERCO and one senior professional from AWE. Prof Paul Smith (SERCO ANSWERS Manager), who over the duration of the project attended weekly meetings as well as the training, reported that FETCH was a good solid tool of use to their industry. Results from FETCH have been presented to the criticality working group with very favorable responses in terms of people's desire to use the model. Due the successful achievements of this project IC are in discussions with SERCO about the commercial exploitation of FETCH, via organising a core-to-core developer team meeting to integrate FETCH (as well as RADIANT) into their commercial products. There is also ongoing collaboration with B&W about its exploitation in the US. Training events are expected in the US over the next year.
Exploitation Route This project will deliver an innovative software package - the FETCH computational model, developed for the design and safety analysis of nuclear systems. FETCH is a coupled radiation transport and fluid dynamics numerical model developed by the Applied Modelling and Computation Group (AMCG) at Imperial College London. The current version of the software package has been commercially used in a wide range of nuclear systems including: criticality safety assessment in low-power fissile solutions and hypothetical geological waste repositories, design of reactors, safety evaluation in fuel processing. A number of nuclear companies have placed contracts with us, including: Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), Serco Assurance, British Energy, AWE, Rolls-Royce, Babcock and Wilcox (USA), Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) and Institut de Radioprotection et Surete Nucleaire (IRSN, France). Although the end-product (technical reports and software licensing) had an excellent acceptance, issues regarding the lack of the software¡¦s user-friendliness and documentation were raised and need to be tackled. Therefore, as a medium-term strategy to enable the academic and commercial software dissemination within the nuclear sector we need to: a. Further develop a new user-friendly front-end; b. Include comprehensive documentation of the modules in FETCH; c. Develop diagnostic tools specifically designed for the nuclear industry; d. Enable the use of third-party mesh generators; e. Further develop model and software quality assurance procedures focused on the nuclear industry requirements. As individual modules, we identified a few software packages that are able to model multi-fluid dynamics (e.g., OpenFoam, CFX, etc), neutron radiation transport (e.g., MCNP, Atilla, TORT, etc) and the whole nuclear circuit system (e.g., MACE, RELAP, TRAC, etc). Some of them have recently been coupled through in-house and third-parties integration platforms (e.g., SALOME, Moose, etc) for system analysis. As a fully coupled neutronic thermal-hydraulic analysis software, we believe that FETCH is unique in the world for the modelling and simulation of complex three-dimensional transient nuclear processes. We envisage that the commercial potential of this project arises from the following: a) Model flexibility, usability and numerical accuracy; b) Our code pre-releases have been used by industry in short and medium-term research contracts with excellent acceptance which improves confidence in our novel and flexible model; c) A current lack of analogous, high-quality software in the market able to deal with very demanding types of multi-physics problems common in the nuclear industry and; d) Novel industrial-academic avenues for research, design, safety regulations, commissioning and decommissioning of reactors due to the nuclear ¡¥renaissance¡¦. Follow-on Fund: Realising the Commercial Potential of the Multi-Physics and Multi-Scale FETCH Technology for Nuclear Safety Applications This project delivers a step-change improvement in the ability of the FETCH software package for the design of nuclear reactor cores and safety assessment for nuclear systems. This work will impact upon the following (potential market): 1) Consulting companies: with an interest in using the new technologies to support decision making and prediction of nuclear systems, including reactors and criticality safety. The new technologies could help inform the design of passive safety systems. 2) Engineers: would benefit from the availability of tools that could be used to optimise designs in nuclear engineering (e.g. PWR, gas-cooled reactors). 3) Designers in companies/industries: would benefit from the optimisation control approach used in design optimisation, in for example fuel enrichment, cooling and control rods positioning (for controlling reactivity). 4) Environmental Safety agency/industries: would benefit from improved predictability in modelling criticality safety, furthermore this work could be also used to assess strategies used to reduce the risk of potential accidents. 5) Government security bodies: the technology proposed here could provide a tool in the design and implementation of effective emergency response actions in the case of criticality accident scenarios. 6) Government regulatory bodies: could use this technology to inform policy makers, risk reduction strategies for the UK. The investigators of this proposal have considerable experience in knowledge exchange and commercial exploitation of their work. They have many past and on-going collaborations with industrial companies (e.g., Babcock and Wilcox, Fujitso, BP, Serco, etc). This will help to exploit the project results, with an expected high national and international impact. Planned activities to ensure good engagement and communication with potential beneficiaries and collaborators include: "h Technical workshop to communicate the FETCH-SAC (Scientific Advisory Committee) members of the computational developments (software engineering). Industrial and academic collaborators may help establishing suitable benchmark test cases to improve the confidence on the model; "h Training events on the outputs of this proposal and the resulting open source model: this will help engage academic and industrial collaborators on the use of the FETCH model and feedback to improve the usability and documentation; "h Commercial workshop to communicate the FETCH-SAC members our progress on the FETCH validation against standard benchmarks initially proposed by the industrial collaborators. "h Visits to UK and international industry/academia. Over the last ten years, Serco Assurance has collaborated with AMCG on criticality safety analysis on geological waste repositories, reactor physics and shielding calculations. They have demonstrated a strong interest in including FETCH as part of their commercial nuclear software suite (see letter of support). Through this project, Serco will provide a stronger link with the nuclear industry in UK and will supply potential benchmark test cases for reactor physics calculations This project will deliver an innovative software package - the FETCH computational model, developed for the design and safety analysis of nuclear systems. FETCH is a coupled radiation transport and fluid dynamics numerical model developed by the Applied Modelling and Computation Group (AMCG) at Imperial College London. The current version of the software package has been commercially used in a wide range of nuclear systems including: criticality safety assessment in low-power fissile solutions and hypothetical geological waste repositories, design of reactors, safety evaluation in fuel processing. A number of nuclear companies have placed contracts with us, including: Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), Serco Assurance, British Energy, AWE, Rolls-Royce, Babcock and Wilcox (USA), Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) and Institut de Radioprotection et Surete Nucleaire (IRSN, France). Although the end-product (technical reports and software licensing) had an excellent acceptance, issues regarding the lack of the software¡¦s user-friendliness and documentation were raised and need to be tackled. Therefore, as a medium-term strategy to enable the academic and commercial software dissemination within the nuclear sector we need to: a. Further develop a new user-friendly front-end; b. Include comprehensive documentation of the modules in FETCH; c. Develop diagnostic tools specifically designed for the nuclear industry; d. Enable the use of third-party mesh generators; e. Further develop model and software quality assurance procedures focused on the nuclear industry requirements. As individual modules, we identified a few software packages that are able to model multi-fluid dynamics (e.g., OpenFoam, CFX, etc), neutron radiation transport (e.g., MCNP, Atilla, TORT, etc) and the whole nuclear circuit system (e.g., MACE, RELAP, TRAC, etc). Some of them have recently been coupled through in-house and third-parties integration platforms (e.g., SALOME, Moose, etc) for system analysis. As a fully coupled neutronic thermal-hydraulic analysis software, we believe that FETCH is unique in the world for the modelling and simulation of complex three-dimensional transient nuclear processes. We envisage that the commercial potential of this project arises from the following: a) Model flexibility, usability and numerical accuracy; b) Our code pre-releases have been used by industry in short and medium-term research contracts with excellent acceptance which improves confidence in our novel and flexible model; c) A current lack of analogous, high-quality software in the market able to deal with very demanding types of multi-physics problems common in the nuclear industry and; d) Novel industrial-academic avenues for research, design, safety regulations, commissioning and decommissioning of reactors due to the nuclear ¡¥renaissance¡¦. Follow-on Fund: Realising the Commercial Potential of the Multi-Physics and Multi-Scale FETCH Technology for Nuclear Safety Applications This project delivers a step-change improvement in the ability of the FETCH software package for the design of nuclear reactor cores and safety assessment for nuclear systems. This work will impact upon the following (potential market): 1) Consulting companies: with an interest in using the new technologies to support decision making and prediction of nuclear systems, including reactors and criticality safety. The new technologies could help inform the design of passive safety systems. 2) Engineers: would benefit from the availability of tools that could be used to optimise designs in nuclear engineering (e.g. PWR, gas-cooled reactors). 3) Designers in companies/industries: would benefit from the optimisation control approach used in design optimisation, in for example fuel enrichment, cooling and control rods positioning (for controlling reactivity). 4) Environmental Safety agency/industries: would benefit from improved predictability in modelling criticality safety, furthermore this work could be also used to assess strategies used to reduce the risk of potential accidents. 5) Government security bodies: the technology proposed here could provide a tool in the design and implementation of effective emergency response actions in the case of criticality accident scenarios. 6) Government regulatory bodies: could use this technology to inform policy makers, risk reduction strategies for the UK. The investigators of this proposal have considerable experience in knowledge exchange and commercial exploitation of their work. They have many past and on-going collaborations with industrial companies (e.g., Babcock and Wilcox, Fujitso, BP, Serco, etc). This will help to exploit the project results, with an expected high national and international impact. Planned activities to ensure good engagement and communication with potential beneficiaries and collaborators include: "h Technical workshop to communicate the FETCH-SAC (Scientific Advisory Committee) members of the computational developments (software engineering). Industrial and academic collaborators may help establishing suitable benchmark test cases to improve the confidence on the model; "h Training events on the outputs of this proposal and the resulting open source model: this will help engage academic and industrial collaborators on the use of the FETCH model and feedback to improve the usability and documentation; "h Commercial workshop to communicate the FETCH-SAC members our progress on the FETCH validation against standard benchmarks initially proposed by the industrial collaborators. "h Visits to UK and international industry/academia. Over the last ten years, Serco Assurance has collaborated with AMCG on criticality safety analysis on geological waste repositories, reactor physics and shielding calculations. They have demonstrated a strong interest in including FETCH as part of their commercial nuclear software suite (see letter of support). Through this project, Serco will provide a stronger link with the nuclear industry in UK and will supply potential benchmark test cases for reactor physics calculations.
Sectors Energy

 
Description Some of the research has been re-applied to the analysis of medical isotope reactor designs in collaboration with Babcock & Wilcox.
Sector Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology
 
Description EPSRC
Amount £1,159,335 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/J002011/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start  
 
Description Expert Group on Multi-physics Experimental Data, Benchmarks and Validation (EGMPEBV) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Expert Group on Multi-physics Experimental Data, Benchmarks and Validation (EGMPEBV).Objectives

to provide member countries with the guidance and processes for certifying experimental data for its use as a benchmark or for its use in general testing of modelling and simulation tools;
to provide member countries with access to certified experimental data from the contributions of individual member countries;
to provide member countries with guidance and recommendations for developing benchmark models from certified experimental datasets;
to provide member countries with access to standardized benchmark models with detailed uncertainty evaluations and uncertainty methodology guidelines;
to provide member countries with recommendations and guidelines for the range of applicability of the certified experimental datasets;
to provide member countries with guidelines and consensus recommendations for validating multi-physics simulations;
to provide member countries with a limited number of demonstrations of the validation recommendations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.oecd-nea.org/science/egmpebv/
 
Description MODELLING IN NUCLEAR SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Join the Nuclear Institute and The International Society
of Multiphysics on 18 October 2017 in Manchester to
explore the latest advances in mathematical modelling
and simulation behaviour of nuclear materials, reactor
safety and environmental effects as well as simulation
advancements and deployment of techniques into
nuclear science and engineering.
Delegates will hear from leading authorities at the
forefront of advancing innovation in Nuclear Materials,
Reactor Safety and Environmental Modelling.
This year's speakers include leading experts from
National Nuclear Laboratory, University of Tokyo,
Manchester University, Imperial College London,
Energia Nucleare ed Energie Alternative (ENEA) and
Bangor University.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018