Results from Recent Conferences Addressing the Monte Carlo (MC) Methods

(note by the NEA Secretariat)

During the last two years five conferences, cosponsored by the OECD/NEA, have taken place during which particle transport MC methods had an eminent place in the programme or were the subject of the conference itself. These are: M&C'99, Madrid, Spain; ICRS9, Tsukuba, Japan; PHYSOR'2000, Pittsburgh, USA, SNA'2000, Tokyo, Japan, and MC2000, Lisbon, Portugal.

Brief summaries are accesible through the respective hyperlinks above  describing the specific MC aspects presented in these. Each of these conferences has shown that the Monte Carlo method is used more widely than ever before. The reasons are:

These recent conferences have confirmed that use is made now in large areas of applications. Particularly intensive is the use made in radiation physics, diagnostics in material identification, material science, radiological and medical applications. Another area of wide use is deep penetration of radiation into matter and radiation shielding, including intermediate particle energies applications. Criticality safety is a field were MC methods are used as a standard analysis tool. It is particularly suitable for calculating the integral parameter k-eff describing the level of criticality, however the convergence of loosely coupled systems is still a challenging problem.

The use of MC in the area of nuclear power has undergone an important evolution. Notable are the extensions to compute burnup in reactor cores, and full core neutronic simulations. The aspects concerned with material or geometry perturbation are starting to be successful after a long development period. First results from sensitivity analysis with MC have been presented that are promising, but still timid. Adjoint MC is being used more widely now.

In many aspects of NPP simulation the MC method is still not applicable and its use would require much further development. Deterministic methods will continue to play an important complementary role. We can predict a symbiosis of stochastic and deterministic methods (including coupled and hybrid methods) for many more years.

Two examples of difficulty:

In order to meet the increased interest and needs of the nuclear community, several training courses are organised every year, during which code users learn how to carry out efficiently modelling with MC. Several hundred, mostly young persons, were trained during the last few years.

In conclusion the Monte Carlo method has proven to be very successful, in particular for radiation transport problems. Its use will increase further in particular if methods developments are pursued. In order to foster such developments this topic should continue to be on the agenda at international conferences and a specific series of MC conferences is justified and should be maintained.

E. Sartori, December 2000

Last reviewed: 27 May 2011