NAAREA and its team deliver on their commitment by finalizing its XAMR® digital twin
In keeping with the strategic roadmap it announced, NAAREA has achieved the first key milestone for the digital twin of its XAMR® microreactor within 18 months. This technology will allow it to safely and virtually simulate, analyse and optimize the reactor’s performance.
NAAREA, a French company selected for the France 2030 and French Tech 2030 programmes, is developing a groundbreaking energy solution: the XAMR® (eXtrasmall Advanced Modular Reactor), a molten salt fast neutron microreactor capable of producing electricity and heat from long-lived spent fuel waste produced by current conventional reactors. With a capacity of 40 megawatts electric or 80 megawatts thermal, NAAREA’s XAMR® is designed to be industrially mass-produced and installed in close proximity to consumers, namely in the mobility sector, electro-intensive industries and remote areas. This complementary addition to the energy mix will reduce the energy bills of consumers and industrial companies. For the design and development of its XAMR®, NAAREA has established an ambitious timetable marked by three main phases:
- Mid-2023: finalization of the first digital twin
- 2027: commissioning of a prototype
- By 2030: construction of a manufacturing facility and launch of series production
In July 2023, NAAREA announced the finalization of its digital twin as set out in its strategic roadmap, thereby fulfilling the first commitment that the company set for itself upon its launch in 2021.
Definition and benefits of a digital twin in the nuclear industry
GIFEN, the professional association for the French nuclear industry, defines a digital twin as “a realistic digital representation of an object, system, asset, process, etc., with data connections that enable convergence between the physical and digital states. This representation is used for simulation, real-time performance monitoring and system performance optimization from design to operation”.
Projects to build nuclear infrastructure are complex and can take place over long cycles. This characteristic, compared to other industries, reinforces the need to use tools such as a digital twin to reduce risks and capitalize on the knowledge gained at the various stages of the project. Digital twins contribute to effective control over the design and build phases, in particular by enabling the optimal integration of industrial components into the infrastructure, as well as the management of a large volume of unstructured data. They also facilitate the implementation of replication and standardization mechanisms.
NAAREA now has a complete digital twin of its microreactor, providing a safe and virtual means to simulate, analyse and optimize its performance.
NAAREA’s digital twin
NAAREA’s digital twin is an ecosystem of digital tools that incorporates 3D models and advanced simulation capabilities. It centralizes all of the data related to the reactor, and will be used throughout the project’s lifecycle, through to operation and reprocessing. For the first phase of the project, NAAREA’s digital twin will represent the reactor as designed, in order to support the design process and accelerate engineering studies, ensure that safety requirements are taken into account and traceable, and offer control over the reactor’s configuration and developments. The data centralized in the digital twin enable highly detailed virtual modelling of the reactor’s behaviour in real-world situations. At the same time, the digital twin makes it easy to review and utilize historical data, by tracking modifications and developments, and documenting the decisions made throughout the design process. It provides impact visualization, simplifies document management and facilitates collaboration and coordination between teams in different disciplines. Lastly, the digital twin offers features that can help meet the professional and functional challenges of NAAREA’s project:
- An advanced operating simulator with a realistic control interface to enable employee training in an immersive virtual environment
- Simulation of dysfunctional scenarios to observe system behaviour and the human reactions they may generate
- Automatic generation of a wide variety of reports than can be used to complete the safety options dossier (DOS) to be submitted to the safety authorities
NAAREA’s digital twin provides capabilities to simulate the overall functioning of the reactor, as well as advanced simulation capabilities for specific studies. This offers NAAREA the ability to evaluate the reactor’s performance very early on, in order to optimize its design and thus reduce development time and the related costs.
Meeting this roadmap milestone was made possible thanks to the dedication of everyone at NAAREA, and to our close and fruitful collaboration with the teams at Assystem and Dassault Systèmes.