Multidimensional multiphysics simulation of nuclear fuel behavior

R. L. Williamson, J. D. Hales, S. R. Novascone, M. R. Tonks, D. R. Gaston, C. J. Permann, D. Andrs, R. C. Martineau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

474 Scopus citations


Nuclear fuel operates in an environment that induces complex multiphysics phenomena, occurring over distances ranging from inter-atomic spacing to meters, and times scales ranging from microseconds to years. This multiphysics behavior is often tightly coupled and many important aspects are inherently multidimensional. Most current fuel modeling codes employ loose multiphysics coupling and are restricted to 2D axisymmetric or 1.5D approximations. This paper describes a new modeling tool able to simulate coupled multiphysics and multiscale fuel behavior, for either 2D axisymmetric or 3D geometries. Specific fuel analysis capabilities currently implemented in this tool are described, followed by a set of demonstration problems which include a 10-pellet light water reactor fuel rodlet, three-dimensional analysis of pellet clad mechanical interaction in the vicinity of a defective fuel pellet, coupled heat transfer and fission product diffusion in a TRISO-coated fuel particle, a demonstration of the ability to couple to lower-length scale models to account for material property variation with microstructural evolution, and a demonstration of the tool's ability to efficiently solve very large and complex problems using massively-parallel computing. A final section describes an early validation exercise, comparing simulation results to a light water reactor fuel rod experiment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-163
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Nuclear Materials
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Apr 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • General Materials Science
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering


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