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May 17th, 2010

iPhone app with nuclear fission mission

Published on May 17th, 2010 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

Work done by University of Utah’s Nuclear Engineering Program and Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute has resulted an iPhone app that can display reactor core simulations for any reactor.

According to Shanjie Xiao, a postdoctoral fellow in nuclear engineering, “We can simulate any reactor with the simulation software package that we developed. We obtain information about the reactor core, such as the level of power being produced. We also can understand the distribution of reaction rates across the core, which gives us information about fuel use at any instant in time.”

Tatjana Jevremovic, director of the UNEP, described the app as “a phenomenal teaching tool.” She says it allows researchers “to look at existing nuclear power plants and predict the performance if we want to increase the power or prolong their life.”

Having said that, the NEP cautions that this capability can be downloaded at the iTunes store. There are actually two parts to the app. The first part, called ImageVis3D Mobile, was developed at Utah’s SCI, and is available as a download. It was originally developed for mobile imaging of CT and MRI scans.

The second part, not available to the public, was designed by Xiao and Xue Yang, another graduate student in nuclear engineering. They assembled a special ImageVis3D Mobile interface to display the results of reactor simulation software. They named the software AGENT – Arbitrary Geometry Neutron Transport.

Jevremovic says access to reactor core simulations are a relatively new and emerging way to address engineering issues.

“We simulate everything now on a computer,” Jevremovic says. “Computer technology has developed rapidly, and we can do calculations and simulations we could just dream of five years ago.”

The iPhone app “can visualize a vast amount of data you create by using the software simulation packages,” she says. “Humans react much better to what they see than just looking at some numbers.”

But some of this data is best kept out of the public domain. School officials say they are working on a secure way for nuclear engineers to share simulation data.

 


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