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A Rapid Computational Method for Reducing the Search Space Required in Nuclear Reactor Optimization

[+] Author Affiliations
Andrew G. Osborne, Mark R. Deinert

University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX

Paper No. IMECE2010-40244, pp. 15-20; 6 pages
  • ASME 2010 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 11: New Developments in Simulation Methods and Software for Engineering Applications; Safety Engineering, Risk Analysis and Reliability Methods; Transportation Systems
  • Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, November 12–18, 2010
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4448-9
  • Copyright © 2010 by ASME


Reactor optimization is central to increasing the efficiency of nuclear fuel cycles and critical for making meaningful comparisons between different design options. Optimization algorithms work by generating trial parameter sets which can be used as inputs to reactor physics models. Unfortunately, many reactor physics codes require substantial CPU time, making optimization of large parameter sets impractical. We have developed a method for finding optima within an N-dimensional parameter space using a fast, flexible reactor physics model that is capable of performing fuel burnup calculations on the order of once per second. Global optima found in this way can then be verified using a high fidelity reactor physics code. We demonstrate our approach by considering a simple fuel pin pitch optimization for a light-water reactor, and we find our code executes in 5 minutes. Repeating this approach using a high-fidelity Monte Carlo simulation requires approximately 15 days of runtime by contrast.

Copyright © 2010 by ASME



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