Center for Computing Research (CCR)

Center for Computing Research



The Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors (CASL) was established by the U.S. Department of Energy as the nation’s Energy Innovation Hub for nuclear energy advanced modeling and simulation. This hub, led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory and funded in 2010 at $122M over five years, is developing a “virtual” nuclear reactor that will address three critical areas of performance for nuclear power plants: (1) reducing costs for nuclear-generated electricity by enabling power up-rates and lifetime extensions for existing and future plants, (2) enabling higher fuel burn-up to reduce the volume of nuclear waste, and (3) enhancing nuclear safety. In 2015, DOE announced the renewal of CASL for an additional five years, which will focus on extending the modeling and simulation tools built during its first phase to include additional nuclear reactor designs, including small modular reactors.

Sandia is one of ten partner institutions in CASL whose scientists and engineers conduct research activities with a very high degree of technical interaction and collaboration using an advanced “telepresence” videoconferencing system and monthly physical “collocation weeks” at ORNL. Sandia scientists played leading technical roles in the development of VERA, the Virtual Environment for Reactor Applications, which will address the challenging operational and safety problems mentioned above.  Sandia contributed key computational technologies, including advanced simulation codes, multiphysics coupling methods, solver libraries, and tools for verification and uncertainty quantification, that comprise the foundation of VERA. Additionally, Sandia led efforts to develop and integrate these capabilities with other codes in VERA, which was recently released by CASL for use by its nuclear industry partners. VERA was announced as a winner of an R&D 100 Award in November 2016.  It is expected that CASL and support for VERA will be merged with DOE's Nuclear Energy Advanced Modeling and Simulation program in FY2019.

Associated Software: Dakota  

Project website

Contact: Summers, Randall M. (Randy),