Novak recognized for work on multiphysics simulation platform

10/17/2023 Phillip Kisubika

Written by Phillip Kisubika

Novak recognized for work on multiphysics simulation platform

One of NPRE’s newest faculty members, assistant professor April Novak, was recently named one of this year’s R&D World Magazine's R&D 100 Award Winners.

Novak was recognized for her work while at Argonne National Laboratory developing Cardinal in collaboration with Idaho National Laboratory.

“It’s an open source, multi-physics, and multi-scale simulation platform that allows engineers to get a better physics understanding of different innovative reactor designs,” Novak said of Cardinal. “The idea is to have a toolkit that allows you to explore physics, reactor safety, different operation regimes and paradigms to develop new nuclear technology.”

Cardinal couples processes and platforms developed at Argonne with the MOOSE framework developed at INL, bringing together successes from the exascale computing project with a nuclear engineering ecosystem for modeling and simulation.

What makes Cardinal so special? According to Novak, it takes a leap forward in leveraging of high-performance computing advances and GPU (graphics processing unit) computing to do some of the largest ever, first-of-a-kind simulations in nuclear engineering.

For the new assistant professor, this platform exemplifies many of the goals she had when she began studying at Illinois as an undergrad over a decade ago.

“The reason I got into nuclear engineering is the potential it has for climate change…a zero-carbon, no greenhouse gas technology,” Novak said. “I think the time scales we have as a planet are getting shorter and shorter, and I wanted to focus my career on this challenging problem.”

“My biggest hope for Cardinal is that engineers and scientists use modeling and simulation and the advancements we’ve made in computing to answer engineering questions faster and to let us bring new technologies to market faster.”

The platform is scalable, can be used on laptops and huge supercomputers, and will be a foundational tool for Novak’s research group in NPRE.

“We’re going to use it to ask questions about multi-physics interactions and advanced reactor concepts and leverage its capabilities at the big national labs and here on campus with NCSA,” Novak said.

Novak will accept her award at a ceremony in November.

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This story was published October 17, 2023.