A Code-Agnostic Driver Application for Coupled Neutronics and Thermal-Hydraulic Simulations

Paul K. Romano, Steven P. Hamilton, Ronald O. Rahaman, April Novak, Elia Merzari, Sterling M. Harper, Patrick C. Shriwise, Thomas M. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While the literature has numerous examples of Monte Carlo (MC) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) coupling, most are hardwired codes intended primarily for research rather than as stand-alone, general-purpose applications. In this work, we describe an open source application, the Exascale Nuclear Reactor Investigative COde (ENRICO), which enables coupled neutronic and thermal-hydraulic simulations between multiple codes that can be chosen at run time (as opposed to a coupling between two specific codes). The application has been designed such that the control flow logic, domain mapping, nonlinear fixed-point iteration, solution transfers, and convergence checks are all agnostic to the underlying physics solvers used. Special emphasis has also been placed on enabling efficient execution on distributed-memory computing environments. The transfer of solution fields between solvers is performed in memory rather than through filesystem input/output. Additionally, solvers can be configured to run on overlapping or disjoint sets of processes. To date, coupling with the OpenMC and Shift MC codes, the Nek5000 CFD code, and a simplified heat diffusion and subchannel solver has been implemented in ENRICO. We present results for coupled simulations of a single light water reactor fuel assembly based on the NuScale reactor using various combinations of the physics solvers. For this problem, the coupled simulations are shown to converge in about four Picard iterations. A comparison of the heat source and temperature distributions computed by ENRICO using OpenMC coupled with Nek5000 and Shift coupled with Nek5000 illustrates remarkable agreement between the codes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-411
Number of pages21
JournalNuclear Science and Engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • CFD
  • Monte Carlo
  • multiphysics
  • nuclear reactor
  • open source

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering


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