Keith S. Bradley, Ph.D.
Nuclear Engineering Division
Argonne National Laboratory
The SHARP simulation suite development team, led by Argonne National Laboratory, includes
other leading national laboratories and research universities. SHARP is developed under the auspices
of the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Nuclear Energy, Nuclear Energy Advanced Modeling and
Simulation Program (NEAMS).
SHARP could save millions in nuclear reactor design and development by leveraging
the computational power of one of the world’s most
The Simulation-based High-efficiency Advanced Reactor Prototyping (SHARP) suite of
codes enables virtual design and engineering of nuclear plant behavior that would be impractical
from a traditional experimental approach. Exploiting the power of Argonne
Leadership Computing Facility’s
near-petascale computers, researchers have developed a set of simulation tools that provide a highly
detailed description of the reactor core and the nuclear plant behavior. This enables the efficient
and precise design of tomorrow’s safe and clean nuclear energy sources.
Introducing the SHARP Suite
Argonne’s high-fidelity computer modeling and simulation work in support of advanced nuclear energy systems is a natural outgrowth of the cumulative years of Argonne’s expertise in nuclear energy.
SHARP is a suite of physics simulation software modules and computational framework components that enables the user to evaluate the impact of design decisions on performance and safety of nuclear reactors or their components. SHARP digitally mimics and allows researchers to “see” the physical processes that occur in a nuclear reactor core, including neutron transport, thermal hydraulics and fuel and structure behavior.
SHARP builds on experience gained in the application and maintenance of existing computer codes that are used to conduct safety evaluations of today’s portfolio of aging nuclear power reactors. Those older codes, while well calibrated for evaluating the safety of next-generation reactor designs, provide little opportunity to optimize designs for efficiency or cost. SHARP was written specifically to support the integrated assessment of safety and performance of advanced design concepts. SHARP allows users to attach the new simulation modules to the older legacy codes, thereby avoiding costly rewriting of codes.
SHARP Computational Mesh Accuracy
A significant challenge in reactor performance and safety simulation is creating a computational
mesh that accurately describes the complex reactor geometry. SHARP’s MeshKit module can
generate reactor core geometries nearly automatically. This mesh, which uses 101 million volume
elements to describe the reactor core, was generated by SHARP simulation tools in as little
as seven minutes.
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Creating Virtual Models
With the SHARP suite, users construct complex virtual reactor models that accurately integrate the governing physics to evaluate the performance of the reactor in a wide variety of operational or accident scenarios. Alternatively, SHARP users may construct highly detailed component models using high-fidelity methods, which rely on few or no engineering models or approximations.
SHARP harnesses the power of commercial-scale computing platforms of today and provides transitional tools to aid industry’s migration to future commercially viable petascale computing platforms. SHARP provides heterogeneous neutron and gamma transport in exact geometries, three-dimensional thermal fluid analysis and finite element structural mechanics analysis capabilities.
A Technology-Neutral Toolset
SHARP relies on high-fidelity science-based methods that do not require calibration tied to a specific reactor application. As a result, SHARP is largely technology neutral and can be applied to virtually any type of reactor.
The SHARP development team has initially focused on two driver problems supported by industrial collaborators and related Department of Energy research programs.
Analysis of stability of reactor vessel coolant flows, especially in advanced light water reactors.
The capabilities that target this problem address both forced and natural convection flow regimes
and provide detailed conditions in fuel assemblies of interest.
Analysis of bypass flow effects on performance of advanced core designs, especially in prismatic
very high temperature reactors (VHTR).
The capabilities developed to address these two problems provide foundations for analyzing many multiphysics reactor design and performance features in many other reactor types. Investments to extend the toolset to additional reactor types primarily focus on developing material property libraries and implementing transient scenarios.
Predicted velocity distribution in the turbulent flow field inside a light water reactor. Evaluating reactor design performance depends on accurately predicting coolant flow through the system.
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Predicted distribution of neutrons of a certain energy range in the complex geometry of an advanced test reactor. Evaluating reactor design performance depends on accurately predicting the interactions between neutron moving through the reactor core and the materials located there.
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PROTEUS — Simulation Toolset
for Reactor Physics and Fuel Cycle Analysis [972K]
Argonne National Laboratory’s powerful reactor physics toolset, PROTEUS, empowers users
to create optimal reactor designs quickly, reliably and accurately. The PROTEUS toolset can
be used to analyze a fast reactor’s entire fuel cycle, including cross section generation,
radiation transport and fuel cycle modeling. The modeling capabilities within PROTEUS enable
accurate and efficient simulation, the key to reducing both design and future construction
How SHARP Adds Value
Permits modeling that integrates reactor performance across varied scenarios
Harnesses the power of today’s petascale computing platforms
Enables users to evaluate the impact of design decisions on performance and safety of nuclear
reactors or their components
Constructs highly detailed component models using science-based high-fidelity methods–which rely on few or no engineering approximations–to optimize designs for safety and performance
Provides heterogeneous neutron and gamma transport in exact geometries, three-dimensional
thermal fluid analysis and finite element structural mechanics analysis capabilities
Includes transitional tools that aid migration to commercially viable petascale computing
Promises millions of dollars in cost savings on reactor design, development and construction