At the beginning of the last decade, Petascale supercomputers (i.e., computers capable of more than 1 petaFLOP) emerged. Now, at the dawn of exascale supercomputing, we provide a review of recent landmark simulations of portions of reactor components with turbulence-resolving techniques that this computational power has made possible. In fact, these simulations have provided invaluable insight into flow dynamics, which is difficult or often impossible to obtain with experiments alone. We focus on simulations performed with the spectral element method, as this method has emerged as a powerful tool to deliver massively parallel calculations at high fidelity by using large eddy simulation or direct numerical simulation. We also limit this paper to constant-property incompressible flow of a Newtonian fluid in the absence of other body or external forces, although the method is by no means limited to this class of flows. We briefly review the fundamentals of the method and the reasons it is compelling for the simulation of nuclear engineering flows. We review in detail a series of Petascale simulations, including the simulations of helical coil steam generators, fuel assemblies, and pebble beds. Even with Petascale computing, however, limitations for nuclear modeling and simulation tools remain. In particular, the size and scope of turbulence-resolving simulations are still limited by computing power and resolution requirements, which scale with the Reynolds number. In the final part of this paper, we discuss the future of the field, including recent advancements in emerging architectures such as GPU-based supercomputers, which are expected to power the next generation of high-performance computers.
- computational fluid dynamics
- direct numerical simulation
- large eddy simulation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics
- Nuclear Energy and Engineering
- Condensed Matter Physics