A coupling methodology for mesoscale-informed nuclear fuel performance codes

Michael Tonks, Derek Gaston, Cody Permann, Paul Millett, Glen Hansen, Dieter Wolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


This study proposes an approach for capturing the effect of microstructural evolution on reactor fuel performance by coupling a mesoscale irradiated microstructure model with a finite element fuel performance code. To achieve this, the macroscale system is solved in a parallel, fully coupled, fully-implicit manner using the preconditioned Jacobian-free Newton Krylov (JFNK) method. Within the JFNK solution algorithm, microstructure-influenced material parameters are calculated by the mesoscale model and passed back to the macroscale calculation. Due to the stochastic nature of the mesoscale model, a dynamic fitting technique is implemented to smooth roughness in the calculated material parameters. The proposed methodology is demonstrated on a simple model of a reactor fuel pellet. In the model, INL's BISON fuel performance code calculates the steady-state temperature profile in a fuel pellet and the microstructure-influenced thermal conductivity is determined with a phase field model of irradiated microstructures. This simple multiscale model demonstrates good nonlinear convergence and near ideal parallel scalability. By capturing the formation of large mesoscale voids in the pellet interior, the multiscale model predicted the irradiation-induced reduction in the thermal conductivity commonly observed in reactors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2877-2883
Number of pages7
JournalNuclear Engineering and Design
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Mechanical Engineering


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