Small modular reactors (SMRs) offer potential for addressing the nation’s long-term energy needs. However, the project design cycle for new reactor concepts is lengthy. As part of the Department of Energy’s Advanced SMR research and development program, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is developing a Dynamic System Modeling Tool (MoDSIM) to facilitate rapid instrumentation and controls studies of SMR concepts.

Traditional nuclear reactor design makes use of verified and validated codes to meet the strict quality assurance requirements of the licensing process for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. However, there are significant engineering analyses and high-level decisions required prior to the rigorous design phase. These analyses typically do not require high-fidelity codes. Different organizations and researchers may examine various plant configuration options prior to formal design activities. Engineers and managers must continuously make down-selection decisions regarding potential reactor architectures and subsystems. Traditionally, the modeling of these complex systems has been based on legacy models. Considerable time and effort are necessary to understand and manipulate these legacy models. For trade-space studies, two developments in the model-based systems engineering space represent a significant advancement in the ability of engineering tools to meet these demands. The first is Modelica: a nonproprietary, equation-based, object-oriented modeling language for cyber-physical systems. The second is the Functional Mockup Interface: a standardized, open interface for model exchange, simulation, and deployment.

ORNL’s MoDSIM tool makes use of these developments and is intended to provide a flexible and robust dynamic system-modeling environment for SMRs. This includes single or multiple reactors, perhaps sharing common resources, or producing both electricity and process heat for local consumption or feeding a regional grid. MoDSIM uses the open-source modeling language (Modelica) and incorporates a user interface, coupled dynamic models, and analysis capabilities that will enable non-expert modelers to perform sophisticated end-to-end system simulations of both neutronic and thermal-hydraulic models. This approach enables open-source and crowd-source-type collaborations for model development of SMRs in an approach similar to open-source and open-design techniques currently used for software production and complex system design. As part of the tool development, an example SMR was chosen (advanced liquid metal reactor [ALMR]) and the ALMR models developed and interface tools demonstrated. For initial verification purposes, the results from these Modelica simulations are compared with the results documented for the earlier ALMR power-reactor innovative small-module concept. These results, as well as initial demonstrations of the tool for different control strategies, are presented in this paper.

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