Nuclear Simulator Laboratory

The VCU Nuclear Reactor Simulator, Richmond Pile 3, is a classroom education/research tool that emulates the operation, control and behavior of a large commercial pressurized water reactor (PWR). Richmond Pile 3 not only enables student understanding of the fundamentals of nuclear power plant operation, but permits students to simulate unanticipated events and nuclear accidents, confident that the behavior they observe is an accurate representation of the response of a commercial power reactor. Hands-on access to the simulator is available to all MNE students either as part of a nuclear engineering course or for individual study.

Key Equipment

The simulator's calculation engine is the professional RETRAN-3D thermal hydraulics system program

Nuclear Simulator Lab RETRAN-3D Thermal Hydraulics Model

Strip charts of key reactor parameters provide users with real-time visual feedback of reactor behavior

Nuclear Simulator Lab Example Strip Charts

The VCU developed graphical user interface, InuRTIA

Nuclear Simulator Lab Graphical User Interface of InuRTIA

Multiple moniters provide operators with easy access to all pertinent data

Nuclear Simulator Lab Image Showing Multiple Monitors

Key Capabilities

  • Use of the professional RETRAN-3D thermal hydraulics code as the computational engine for the simulator allows for development of new light water reactor models, including potential future reactor designs
  • The simulator’s intuitive graphical user interface, INuRTIA, delivers real time visual and audio feedback to improve student understanding of nuclear reactors
  • Real time data values for key reactor parameters are continually updated during a simulator session
  • Learning is further enhanced through the provision of a complete data record of a simulator session including plots of the histories of key reactor parameters


EGMN 455: Nuclear Power Plants

EGMN 655: Nuclear Power Plants


James Miller