USING COMPUTATIONAL SIMULATION CODES IN NUCLEAR ENGINEERING MASTER PROGRAMS TO INCREASE NUCLEAR SAFETY SKILLS

T. Barrachina1, R. Miró1, S. Chiva2, G. Verdú1

1Universitat Politecnica de Valencia (SPAIN)
2Universitat Jaume I (SPAIN)
This work describes the experience in the implementation of a methodology to use computational computer codes for students at graduate level as a tool to increase their Nuclear Safety knowledge.

The integrating computer-assisted learning and simulation technologies into engineering studies become very important in today's technical practice. But the use of simulation become complex for undergraduate students since fields as Deterministic Nuclear Safety need good knowledge of several subjects as, computing, a high level of mathematical skills in modeling and numerical methods or a good knowledge of the physical problem to be simulated. All these topics are very difficult to concentrate in a unique course. Many courses have the objective of learning Nuclear Safety for experienced code users or as a tool for PhD thesis research, and the target student is a post-graduate. But the number of courses dedicate to enhance the technical curriculum through use of computer codes applied to Nuclear Engineering are limited. This work describes the methodology developed focus on developing the students’ technical capabilities through the use of simulation techniques, mainly thermalhydraulics and neutron kinetics.

The use of commercial codes have as inconvenient feature the price of the license and the impossibility to use the source code or limited information about the real models implemented in the code, although most of them are including an interface that allows users to add new models to the code. Regularly, computer codes in Nuclear Engineering are open-source codes, which have the advantage of the access to the source at free cost, but most of them, like TRACE, RELAP, PARCS, MCNP, OpenFoam, etc., are very difficult to compile and install, limiting for an average student their use, and most of the times, the access to updated documentation and tutorials for self-study is not always easy. Furthermore, some of these codes have limited graphical capabilities, especially at the input deck pre-processing stage, which make them less attractive to students. In the paper, will be discussed the requirements of any code to be useful in this kind of learning based on computer simulations, since it is one of the most difficult barrier for the students.

The Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV), with the support of the Universitat Jaume I de Castelló (UJI), has implemented the use of deterministic nuclear safety computer codes in the master programs taught at the Chemical and Nuclear Engineering Department at the UPV.

Nuclear safety computer-aided learning courses are designed as an introduction to the use of simulation techniques to understand the behaviour of nuclear power plants and their systems. Then, the goal of the courses is that students develop the capabilities necessaries to face to complex problems, using computer codes as a tool. The students, with undergraduate and graduate level, come from studies, mainly from mechanical engineering and chemical engineering. Then it is necessary to take on account their heterogeneous formation, but this is an advantage more than an inconvenient, since it makes that this procedure will be much more generic and easily to implement in other learning framework.