Cerberus Nuclear Delivers Criticality Training to Tradebe Inutec

In addition to criticality safety consultancy services, Cerberus Nuclear has expertise in delivering criticality safety training. Our in-house graduate criticality assessor training (aka “Crit College”) is delivered in line with the Working Party on Criticality guidelines, and our more senior assessors are experience in mentoring our graduate recruits.

We have also developed CARTA, a criticality training aid, available in VR and desktop-based versions. CARTA software is available for purchase and Cerberus Nuclear can provide advice on how to integrate it into your own criticality training programme. In addition, we are able to utilise CARTA when delivering training for our clients.

Recently, our Criticality Safety Lead, Toby Tyas, delivered criticality safety training to the SHEQ department at Tradebe Inutec. The first part of the training was held over Microsoft Teams and focussed on the factors that affect criticality. The second training session was held on site and was centred on the principles of fissile mass control.

Toby used CARTA VR to enhance the training. A strength of CARTA is that it allows people to apply the principles discussed in conventional classroom presentations through exercises within the CARTA simulations. We think this makes for more enjoyable and effective learning. On the day trainees were very positive about CARTA and said that they particularly liked the intuitive nature of the spheres in the MAGIC MERV Scenario. CARTA can also be configured for use in a seated position, so people who might be a little nervous about VR can feel confident enough to take part.

As part of the exercise Toby had placed some error traps along the way, which the team successfully identified and resolved, so full marks! Toby is very grateful for the warm welcome and active participation of everyone who attended the training session.

Cerberus Nuclear Support NNL Criticality Safety Training Course

We recently supported NNL with delivery of their UK Nuclear Criticality Safety Course. This is a long established training course in the UK and is supported by the University of New Mexico. Guest speakers from Sellafield Limited and ONR also contribute to the course.

Representatives from NNL have been key stakeholders in the development of CARTA, our criticality training application, via an Alpha Resilience and Capability (ARC) funded programme of work. Integration of CARTA into their criticality training course has been a key milestone for this programme of work and we were pleased to deliver this novel project on time.

At the criticality training course, we were delighted to see our ‘MAGIC MERV simulation’ being put into good effect in presentations regarding the factors that affect criticality. The ‘glovebox process simulation’ provided an interesting and lively group activity with the course instructors creating a series of challenging scenarios for the class to tackle. You can read more about the training simulations here.

In addition, Sam and Stewart were on hand to demonstrate the simulations in a Virtual Reality (VR) environment (both during the course and in the bar at the end of the day).

We would like to extend our thanks to NNL for their support in the development of this phase of the CARTA project and for hosting us on the course.

Completion of ARC funded CARTA Software

CARTA is criticality safety training software developed here at Cerberus Nuclear. Uniquely, CARTA displays a realistic value of k-effective as the user interacts with the simulation, either in a conventional first-person desktop format or Virtual Reality (VR) environment. The user can see, in real-time, the effect that their actions have on criticality safety. The CARTA methodology requires a multi-disciplinary approach, combining criticality safety calculations, machine learning and a gaming environment.

We have recently completed the software development for two training scenarios. This programme of work has been funded by the UK’s Alpha Resilience and Capability (ARC) programme.

The project has involved engagement with representatives from many of the ARC member organisations. This has given relevant stakeholders the opportunity to influence the functionality and appearance of CARTA as a training tool, prior to integration into training programmes within their own organisations. Two training simulations have been created:

This simulation is intended to be conceptual rather than realistic. It allows the maximum range of effects to be demonstrated, making it useful for training operators and assessors and also for wider stakeholder engagement.

Images of CARTA development. From concept through to the final product.

We are now looking at options for implementation at each of the various ARC member organisations including Sellafield Limited, AWE, NNL, Nuclear Waste Services, ONR and DSRL. If you work for any of these organisations and would like access to CARTA, then please get in touch (nuclear@cerberusnuclear.com).

We are now actively seeking organisations that would benefit from this particular software or bespoke criticality safety training scenarios using the CARTA methodology. If you would like to discuss your idea, please get in touch using nuclear@cerberusnuclear.com.

University of Birmingham Industry Lecture

Cerberus Nuclear has recently provided support to the University of Birmingham’s nuclear post-graduate masters courses. Geoff Hall and Katrina Christaki presented a lecture to students of the PTNR (Physics and Technology of Nuclear Reactors) and NDWM (Nuclear Decommissioning and Waste Management) courses as part of an ongoing industry lecture series. 

They gave an introduction to radiation shielding and criticality safety assessment in industry which was supported by case studies on the innovative projects that have been carried out by the Cerberus team over the past 12 months.

In particular, dynamic source movement assessment techniques were described and the benefits for use in radiation transport assessment were of focus, as well as a worked example of a dynamic waste package loading and transfer process within a facility with changing dose rate contours displayed live as package movements take place.

Worked Example of Dynamic Box Loading and Transfer

Cerberus's criticality training aid, CARTA, was also presented. CARTA is a brand new innovative tool that uses machine learning to calculate k-eff in real time for the purposes of operator training. CARTA is currently in development supported by NNL, AWE and Sellafield Ltd as part of the Alpha Resilience Capability. An early desktop version of CARTA was demonstrated to students providing an insight into the fundamental principles of criticality safety.

CARTA: Glovebox in VR, Tōkai-mura criticality simulation 

The lecture was well received by the students and provided an excellent demonstration of the unique and innovative work that individuals joining the team can look forward to getting involved with.

Cerberus supports summer placements from the NTEC (Nuclear Technology Education Consortium) postgraduate-level masters degree course, and we look forward to doing the same for the University of Birmingham later this year.

UK Working Party on Criticality, November 2021

Cerberus Nuclear attended the second Working Party on Criticality (WPC) meeting of the year, taking place as a web-conference.

Stewart Hay attended as our representative with graduate, Katrina Christaki, attending as an observer for the first time. As the meeting was held online, it was a good opportunity for Katrina to progress her professional development gaining insight to the range of issues considered by the WPC and its sub-groups as well as how they interact with licenced sites.

There were discussions surrounding criticality resources and training with and improvements that could be made in the future. We also gave an update on our Alpha Resilience Capability (ARC) Programme funded project, CARTA.

The next WPC will be the 100th meeting, expected to take place around May 2022. It is hoped that this may take place in-person once again.

Cerberus Receives ARC Funding to Develop Criticality Safety VR Training Software

Cerberus Nuclear is a hub for innovation in criticality safety and radiation shielding and we are pleased to announce that we have made a successful application for funding from the UK’s Alpha Resilience and Capability (ARC) programme. ARC was created by BEIS (Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy) to ensure that the UK retains its world-leading alpha capabilities: from operations and maintenance, to high-end R&D and design. This cross-industry consortium includes the National Nuclear Laboratory, Sellafield Limited, AWE and ONR.

Over the last two years Cerberus Nuclear has developed CARTA, a concept for criticality safety VR (Virtual Reality) training software, which we successfully presented at ICNC2019. Uniquely, CARTA uses a machine learning algorithm to predict k-effective 'on the fly' for a given system, such as an alpha facility glovebox. When coupled to a VR headset, CARTA gives users an immersive experience of the facility environment and the effect of their actions on the system’s reactivity.

The ARC funding will support the next phase of development, to refine the concept into a software package for members of the ARC consortium to use. CARTA will deliver tangible benefits directly to operators on plant, criticality safety specialists and other stakeholders in criticality safety. The software package will use a variety of scenarios in desktop and VR environments, to provide intuitive user interfaces. The underpinning data will be based on accurate modelling of the neutron physics, providing a realistic environment for trainees to improve their understanding of the complexities associated with criticality safety.

The specifics of the training scenarios will be guided by a Technical Steering Committee, comprising stakeholders from the various ARC member organisations. This will ensure that the training scenarios are relevant and can be effectively integrated into their existing training programmes.

We are now actively seeking organisations that would benefit from bespoke criticality safety training scenarios. If you would like to discuss your idea, please get in touch using nuclear@cerberusnuclear.com.