Thursday, March 25, 2010

How Supercomputing is Revolutionizing Nuclear Power

Out of all the carbon-free power options, nuclear power faces some of the highest hurdles to commercial-scale deployment. The upfront costs for reactors are in the billions, the projects take years to site and build, and nuclear materials and designs have to undergo testing for decades to make sure they can be used in the field. That’s one reason why nuclear research costs a whole lot of money and the pace of innovation seems incredibly slow. But that’s also the reason why supercomputing has started to truly revolutionize the world of nuclear power innovation.

Supercomputing, or “extreme computing” as the Department of Energy described it during a workshop on computing and nuclear power last year, involves computers at the petaflop scale. It will eventually reach even exaflop scale. A computer running at a petaflop can do 1 million billion calculations in a second, and an exaflop of performance can deliver a billion billion calculations per second.

That massive amount of number crunching can help developers of nuclear power technology simulate next-generation designs of nuclear reactors, show how advanced fuels in a reactor could be consumed over time, and model more efficient waste disposal and refueling efforts. It’s all about being able to go through very complex and lengthy research and development processes much more quickly and with far less cost compared to both physical testing and using less powerful computers.

(This article sourced from the and original version can be reached their web pages.)

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