The PRA group was awarded a U.S. Department of Energy grant through the Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP) to develop, demonstrate, and evaluate an open source, parallel, and distributed web-based probabilistic risk assessment (PRA) software platform needed to address the major challenges of the current legacy PRA tools. This includes better quantification speed, integration of multi-hazard models into traditional PRAs, and model modification/simplification and documentation automation.
The development and use of probabilistic risk assessments (PRAs) in the nuclear industry have revolutionized our approach to reliability and safety. Since the release of WASH-1400 in 1975 and NUREG-1150 in 1990, the PRA applications have diversified and become more computationally demanding, nevertheless the tools that we use to perform such assessments have not kept up with the technological advancements in high-performance computing and computer science applications. The legacy PRA tools, although still perform well on internal events PRA models that have reasonable sizes, suffer greatly, both in terms of speed and memory requirements, when challenged by more sophisticated models such as single hazard PRAs, and especially multi-hazard PRAs. Therefore, a major redesign of the PRA tools is necessary starting from the computational engine capabilities, backend services to handle large PRA models, and a user-friendly PRA frontend that can automatically generate results and documentation necessary to inform non-PRA experts.
This year, DOE awarded more than $48.8 million through NEUP to support 69 university-led nuclear energy research and development projects in 27 states. NEUP seeks to maintain U.S. leadership in nuclear research across the country by providing top science and engineering faculty and their students with opportunities to develop innovative technologies and solutions for civil nuclear capabilities.