The neutron transport code UNIC being developed by a team of computer scientists and nuclear engineers at Argonne National Laboratory enables researchers to acquire a fine-grained model of a nuclear reactor core for the first time. “The UNIC code is intended to reduce the uncertainties and biases in reactor design calculations by progressively replacing existing multilevel averaging techniques with more direct solution methods based on explicit reactor geometries,” says Argonne scientist Andrew Siegel. The Argonne researchers have executed detailed simulations of the Zero Power Reactor experiments on as many as 163,840 processor cores of the Blue Gene/P and 222,912 processor cores of the Cray XT5 at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, as well as on 294,912 processor cores of a Blue Gene/P at Germany’s Julich Supercomputing Center. UNIC has enabled researchers to successfully represent the details of the full reactor geometry as well as compare the results directly with the experimental data. The scientists say the code could play an essential role in the development of safe, affordable, and green nuclear reactors. UNIC gives researchers a better understanding of the behavior of existing reactor systems and also allows them to anticipate the behavior of many newly proposed systems with untested design characteristics.
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