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The Virginia Engineer's Feature Articles

Engineers Improve Nuclear “Reactor Safety Code” Software

April, 2005

Researchers from Purdue University, government and the nuclear power industry are improving three computer programs that are critical to preventing disasters such as the Three Mile Island accident in 1979.

The complex programs, or “reactor safety codes,” are used to simulate severe accidents and, in the process, provide data needed to ensure that power plants are designed properly.

Without such simulations of hypothetical accidents, the only available information is from the actual Three Mile Island (TMI) catastrophe and small-scale laboratory experiments. During the Three Mile Island accident, a valve failed to close at a plant near Middletown, PA, causin