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IAEA Workshop at Texas A&M University Demonstrates Use Educational Nuclear Power Plant Simulators


Instructor at IAEA workshop demonstrates modelling transient and accident analysis of nuclear reactors using a simulator for education and training (Photo: C. Batra/IAEA)

Many countries are considering the introduction of nuclear power and the associated demand for qualified nuclear professionals drives the need for the development of robust nuclear science and technology education programmes. A recent IAEA training workshop demonstrated the ability to use nuclear power plant (NPP) simulators as effective educational tools.

The interregional training course, entitled "Understanding the Physics and Technology of Water-Cooled Reactors through the use of Basic Principle Simulators," was held on 7 - 18 December 2015 at the Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, United States. Its purpose was to provide university professors, nuclear professionals and regulatory authorities involved in teaching and understanding topics in nuclear energy with computer simulation tools to demonstrate reactor physics and operational response characteristics of various water-cooled reactor technologies.

"The IAEA's suite of simulators is a valuable educational aid for teaching and training the next generation of nuclear professionals around the world," said Chirayu Batra, of the IAEA Department of Nuclear Energy and an instructor at the course. "We, as nuclear professionals, have an enormous responsibility for the safe and secure management of this mature but complex technology."

These simulators are very effective in providing understanding of complex NPP system responses to normal and accident scenarios, as well as of the main plant safety features. The lectures for this training course, held under an IAEA technical cooperation project, involved various types of nuclear reactors, explained Mr Batra.

"This course was very extensive and useful," said Huynh Dong Phuong, a professor from Viet Nam, participating in the workshop. "I will use these simulators for teaching my students in nuclear science and engineering." Viet Nam is considering introducing a new nuclear power programme.

The IAEA not only provides training on using the NPP simulators, but can also arrange for the supply or development of such simulation programmes and training material to Member States. The basic-principle simulators provide educational tools for university professors and engineers involved in teaching topics in nuclear energy and are also supplied directly to students, engineers and scientists interested in broadening their understanding of the topic. The IAEA continues to develop the variety and availability of the suite of NPP simulators for educational purposes.

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