White paper

Towards a Virtual Reactor: the birth of the nuclear digital twin

In this white paper, we give examples of how digital twin technology supports nuclear power growth and adoption. We explore the specific challenges that the nuclear industry is facing, and how the nuclear engineering community is addressing these challenges using virtual reactor models and digital twins.

The Nuclear Reactor of the Future

The current fleet of aging nuclear reactors is based in huge imposing facilities generally located in isolated locations, away from population centers.

This need not be the case. In the near future nuclear reactors will be regarded as portable, modular sources of safe and clean energy. Rather than being located in remote facilities, hundreds of miles away from cities, they will be in convenient locations near to where the demand for the power that they generate is greatest.

However, without the extensive use of digital twin technology many of the next generation reactor designs will never make it through the licensing and commissioning phase.

The Nuclear Digital Twin

In this white paper, we will explore how digital twin capabilities, which have been successfully deployed across other industries, can be employed in the nuclear industry despite its exceptional validation requirements, accurate representation of physics, and quantification of uncertainty.

We argue that through adopting a digital twin (or virtual reactor) methodology, it is possible both to cut the design cycle for new nuclear technology in half and significantly reduce the cost of testing required to support licensing.

Simulating Nuclear Physics

We also explore how Simcenter digital twin technology is being applied in the design of Generation IV nuclear reactors such as those proposed by X-energy, Kairos Power, and TerraPower, and specifically investigate the computational fluid dynamics simulation of complex physics such as:

  • Temperature prediction in pebble bed reactors
  • Flow and heat transfer in novel coolants such as molten salt and metal
  • Thermal striping
  • Flow and thermal-induced vibration of fuel bundles

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In this white paper, we give examples of how digital twin technology supports nuclear power growth and adoption. We explore the specific challenges that the nuclear industry is facing, and how the nuclear engineering community is addressing these challenges using virtual reactor models and digital twins.

The Nuclear Reactor of the Future

The current fleet of aging nuclear reactors is based in huge imposing facilities generally located in isolated locations, away from population centers.

This need not be the case. In the near future nuclear reactors will be regarded as portable, modular sources of safe and clean energy. Rather than being located in remote facilities, hundreds of miles away from cities, they will be in convenient locations near to where the demand for the power that they generate is greatest.

However, without the extensive use of digital twin technology many of the next generation reactor designs will never make it through the licensing and commissioning phase.

The Nuclear Digital Twin

In this white paper, we will explore how digital twin capabilities, which have been successfully deployed across other industries, can be employed in the nuclear industry despite its exceptional validation requirements, accurate representation of physics, and quantification of uncertainty.

We argue that through adopting a digital twin (or virtual reactor) methodology, it is possible both to cut the design cycle for new nuclear technology in half and significantly reduce the cost of testing required to support licensing.

Simulating Nuclear Physics

We also explore how Simcenter digital twin technology is being applied in the design of Generation IV nuclear reactors such as those proposed by X-energy, Kairos Power, and TerraPower, and specifically investigate the computational fluid dynamics simulation of complex physics such as:

  • Temperature prediction in pebble bed reactors
  • Flow and heat transfer in novel coolants such as molten salt and metal
  • Thermal striping
  • Flow and thermal-induced vibration of fuel bundles