Infrastructure, Energy & MaterialsDecember 8, 2023

Building a micro reactor in the virtual world

NAAREA is the French company behind a revolutionary fast neutron modular reactor called XAMR, which produces electricity and heat from nuclear waste. At the heart of its development strategy is the 3DEXPERIENCE platform and an exciting plan to use the virtual twin to model the reactor, simulate its behavior, and eventually manage all aspects of its manufacturing and operation until its end of life.
Avatar Rebecca Lambert

How does one go about developing a pioneering nuclear reactor in the fastest and safest possible manner? For one French startup, the answer lies in virtual twin technology.

NAAREA’s fast neutron micro reactor, called XAMR® (eXtrasmall Advanced Modular Reactor), will use molten salts as coolant and long-life nuclear waste as fuel to produce heat and electricity without releasing any greenhouse gases. Targeting series production by 2030, the company hopes to develop its reactor and get it certified as quickly and efficiently as possible. To achieve that, it’s made the bold decision to create a fully functional version of XAMR in the virtual world first and use this integrated virtual environment to manage all its design, engineering and manufacturing processes.

Within only 18 months, NAAREA successfully built its first virtual configuration of XAMR using CATIA on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform on the cloud. By applying model-based system engineering (MBSE) methods – whereby all disciplines and systems are interlinked from the onset – NAAREA’s team of engineers virtually validated the architecture, size and functionality of the reactor, and defined the interface between its subsystems.

“From the beginning, I knew we needed to develop our product within an integrated virtual environment where everything is linked,” said Jean-Luc Alexandre, founder and CEO of NAAREA. “Our vision is to use the virtual twin for everything, from sourcing the fuel and creating the molten salt to building, installing and operating the reactor; it’s the cornerstone of our entire development plan.”

Once built, each XAMR reactor will be about the size of a bus so it can be sited close to its customers and won’t require an external grid supply. It will turn highly irradiated spent nuclear fuel from previous generation reactors into a new energy source, delivering a reliable supply of clean electricity and heat to industrial companies – all while using up radioactive waste in the process.

NAAREA is currently working to commission a fully operational physical prototype before progressing to full-scale production of its reactor. It then intends to manage XAMR throughout its entire lifespan through the virtual twin, covering everything from transport and on-site delivery to implementation, training, security, insurance, operations and maintenance.

Read the full story here to discover how the 3DEXPERIENCE platform’s virtual twin capabilities make it possible for NAAREA to model and virtually analyze the behavior of XAMR in real-life situations and trace all modifications as its design evolves.

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