Saturday, November 10, 2007

Supercomputers to Simulate Nuclear Reactors

Computers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Brookhaven National Laboratory will run virtual models of a reactor. Computers which can perform trillions of operations per second to test the reliability and safety of the reactor designs are to be used.The computers will model a so-called sodium-cooled fast reactor, which would be able to use highly radioactive nuclear materials for fuel and would produce electricity more efficiently than current reactors. Proponents say the reactors also would provide a way to reduce the worldwide stockpile of weapons-grade nuclear fuel.
The idea is to design reactors that can use this material and that are safe.The company's Blue Gene computers at the site will be able to simulate the vastly complex reactor, down to modeling the flow of liquid around pipes and through valves.Researchers expect that if the simulation is done properly, then the weak spots can be avoided.Researchers at Columbia University and the State University of New York at Stony Brook also will be involved in the three-year project.

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