New Paradigm for Real-Time, High-Fidelity Particle Transport Simulation with Monte Carlo Accuracy

with Alireza Haghighat,
Professor and Director, Virginia Tech Nuclear Engineering Program in Mechanical Engineering

September 08, 2023, 10:10 am,
Foggy Bottom room, VTRC, Arlington

There is a significant need for 3-D steady-state and transient neutron transport algorithms and codes that yield accurate, high-fidelity solutions using reasonable computing resources and time. These tools are essential for modeling innovative nuclear systems, such as next generation reactor designs, as they allow fast but accurate simulation of these systems in a large variety of configurations. The existing methods generally compromise heavily between
accuracy and affordability in terms of computation times.

Over the past 35 years, Prof. Haghighat and his students have developed novel particle transport methodologies and formulations based on deterministic and Monte Carlo approaches, and their hybrids. These efforts have resulted in the development of the MRT (Multi-stage, Response-function Transport) methodology and different hybrid techniques with application to nuclear reactor systems, nuclear security, and medical image reconstruction.

This talk will focus on the RAPID (Real-time Analysis for Particle transport and In-situ Detection) code system for steady-state and transient simulation of nuclear reactor systems including reactor cores, spent fuel pools, and spent fuel casks. Based on the MRT methodology, transport equation is written in terms of response matrices and coefficients to solve 3-D criticality, subcriticality, fuel burnup, reactor kinetics, and detector response and dosimetry problems. These response matrices and coefficients are pre-calculated as a function of different parameters using fixed-source Monte Carlo calculations, and problem solution is obtained by solving linear systems of equations.

These new formulations/algorithms have been computationally verified using several computational benchmarks and experimentally validated using the JSI TRIGA Mark-II reactor. We have demonstrated that RAPID can yield high-fidelity solutions for real-world problems in seconds and minutes on a single computer core.

Alireza Haghighat is Robert E. Hord. Jr. professor and Director of the Virginia Tech Nuclear Engineering Program, Mechanical Engineering Department. He is also the Director the Mechanical Engineering Program at the National Capital Region (NCR) Campus, Arlington, VA. He is the former (2001-2009) Chair of the University of Florida (UF) Nuclear & Radiological Engineering (NRE) Department and former (2008-2010) Director of UF Training Reactor. Prior to Florida, Prof. Haghighat was a faculty member at the Pennsylvania State University for 15 years.

Prof. Haghighat is a fellow of the American Nuclear Society (ANS). He leads the Virginia Tech Theory Transport Group (VT3G). Over the past 35 years, Prof. Haghighat has been involved in the development of new particle transport methodologies and large computer codes for modeling and simulation of nuclear systems including reactors, nuclear security and safeguards systems and medical devices. His efforts has resulted in the development of several advanced computer programs including PENTRAN, A3MCNP, TITAN, INSPCT-s, AIMS, TITAN-IR, and RAPID. For the RAPID code system, a virtual reality system (VRS) web application has been developed.

He has published over 280 papers, received several best paper awards, and presented numerous invited workshops, seminars, and papers nationally and internationally. In Dec 2014 and July 2020, he published 1st and 2nd editions, respectively, of a textbook entitled ‘Monte Carlo Methods for Particle Transport’, CRC Press Taylor & Francis Group

He is recipient of the 2023 Gerard Pomraning Memorial Award for his seminal contributions to the Mathematic and Computation in Nuclear Engineering, 2011 Radiation Protection Shielding Division’s Professional Excellence Award, and recognition award from Office of Global Threat Reduction for his leadership & contributions to design and analysis for the University of Florida Training Rector HEU to LEU fuel conversion, 2009.

Prof. Haghighat is an active member of the American Nuclear Society, and has served at various leadership positions. He has served as Chair of the Reactor Physics Division (2012-13) and the Mathematics and Computation Division (2005-06), was co-founder of the Computational Medical Physics Working Group, and served as Chair of NEDHO (Nuclear Engineering Department Heads Organization) (2006-07).

In 2015, he contributed to the formation of the Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium (VNEC) nonprofit organization; he is the founding Chairman of the board of this organization (2015-2016), and currently the Vice-chair of the organization.