January 26, 2021 | Safely observing a nuclear reactor

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Because it can simulate all core operating conditions, nothing beats using a “digital twin” for observing a nuclear reactor in complete safety. The goal of the Digital Reactor project—in which CEA List, a CEA Tech institute, is playing a key role—is to develop exactly this type of simulator to ensure the French nuclear industry remains safe, attractive, innovative, and competitive.

It is entirely possible to observe a nuclear reactor during operation without taking the slightest risk. A “digital twin” provides engineers and operators with an integrated environment for simulating complex physical and system-level phenomena.

The four-year Digital Reactor project was launched jointly in 2020 by EDF, Framatome, the CEA, and six other engineering and nuclear-industry firms. The aim of the project—part of the French government’s multi-year strategy for its nuclear industry—is to create a digital twin of the critical components used in a nuclear reactor’s design, operation, and decommissioning phases. This shared platform’s operator training simulator should improve the operational efficiency of players in the nuclear industry. Digital simulation could also be utilized by French companies to develop and offer new services on export markets.

CEA List’s software engineering and critical systems know-how and tools will support the project in:

  • Modeling the various concepts and activities to promote discussion
  • Validating the operating requirements and simulation codes
  • Ensuring that access to the platform and its data are secure

This ambitious project paves the way for large-scale digital transformation in the French nuclear industry.


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