President Emeritus James Duderstadt, a faculty member of the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences, has accepted an appointment as the chair of the board of the directors of the Department of Energy’s CASL energy innovation hub for advanced simulation of light water reactors (the Consortium on Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors). This project, funded at $25 million per year, is unusual in that it involves three major universities, four national laboratories, and eight industrial partners. NERS Professors William Martin and Thomas Downar lead one of its major programs in developing new tools to analyze radiation transport.
The innovation hub paradigm was first suggested by a National Academy of Engineering study on engineering research chaired by Duderstadt in 2005. A further study conducted by the Brookings Institution, also chaired by Duderstadt, recommended the potential importance of the hub concept to energy research in 2010, and the Department of Energy launched CASL as the first of several energy innovation hubs. During its first five years of operation, CASL has provided strong leadership for the development of new analytical methods, including the VERA (Virtual Environment for Reactor Analysis), which has already produced important tools for application by the nuclear industry, including the powerful MPACT neutron transport code developed by the Michigan team. As the most successful of the new DOE energy innovation hubs, CASL project has been recommended to Congress for a second five-year funding period.