This paper demonstrates a multiphysics solver for pebble-bed reactors, in particular, for Berkeley’s pebble-bed -fluoride-salt-cooled high-temperature reactor (PB-FHR) (Mark I design). The FHR is a class of advanced nuclear reactors that combines the robust coated particle fuel form from high-temperature gas-cooled reactors, the direct reactor auxiliary cooling system passive decay removal of liquid-metal fast reactors, and the transparent, high-volumetric heat capacitance liquid-fluoride salt working fluids (e.g., FLiBe) from molten salt reactors. This fuel and coolant combination enables FHRs to operate in a high-temperature, low-pressure design space that has beneficial safety and economic implications. The PB-FHR relies on a pebble-bed approach, and pebble-bed reactors are, in a sense, the poster child for multiscale analysis.

Relying heavily on the MultiApp capability of the Multiphysics Object-Oriented Simulation Environment (MOOSE), we have developed Cardinal, a new platform for lower-length-scale simulation of pebble-bed cores. The lower-length-scale simulator comprises three physics: neutronics (OpenMC), thermal fluids (Nek5000/NekRS), and fuel performance (BISON). Cardinal tightly couples all three physics and leverages advances in MOOSE, such as the MultiApp system and the concept of MOOSE-wrapped applications. Moreover, Cardinal can utilize graphics processing units for accelerating solutions. In this paper, we discuss the development of Cardinal and the verification and validation and demonstration simulations.