Nuclear Power Plant Simulation Game
November 19, 2012 7:04 PM   Subscribe

Nuclear Power Plant Simulation Game
posted by Confess, Fletch (34 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
eenie meenie miney moe
posted by saturday_morning at 7:05 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


The only winning move is not to play.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:16 PM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


The only winning move is not to play.

Turns out that's also a losing move.
posted by Zalzidrax at 7:26 PM on November 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


I got it running pretty much where I wanted it to by day three, edged primary cooling up just a hair and it started to overheat (WTF) so I took primary cooling way up and had a meltdown (again, WTF). I think it's chunking time way to coarsely to simulate much of anything.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:30 PM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Average power of 1075 kW, which it tells me is too low. Burned through all my fuel in about 150 days. Light damage to reactor. ~300k USD in energy produced. Terribly inefficient but no meltdown, so, that's something.
posted by curious nu at 7:31 PM on November 19, 2012


That's, um, erm. Interesting, I suppose. Feels random though.
posted by davejay at 7:33 PM on November 19, 2012


Weren't we just told to thank a breeder? And now we're railing on them?

I'm thoroughly confused.
posted by Talez at 7:34 PM on November 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


Coolant level is low. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.
posted by Cash4Lead at 7:34 PM on November 19, 2012 [17 favorites]


I guess I can add nuclear reacting to the lengthly list of jobs I am not qualified for.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 7:44 PM on November 19, 2012


It's a bit weird being able to only adjust power once a day, but my biggest problem was being too conservative with the control rods as the fuel was depleted. Remember, primary coolant can't take away enough heat unless the secondary loop is running fast enough, but if it's running too fast it cools off the whole system too much so you don't produce as much power as you'd like.

I forget what my exact figures were, but it said I had generated just enough power. I guess I'll have to give it another go, this time more aggressively.
posted by wierdo at 7:45 PM on November 19, 2012


Reminds me of Chris Crawford's 1981 game SCRAM. In his book On Game Design he didn't look back on it well:
All in all, Scram was a stupid game devoid of entertainment value. ... I could hide behind the fact that software in those days was mostly bad. ... If I had it all to do over again, I would start my design process by asking myself, "What is fun and interesting about nuclear power plants?" The answer, of course, would be "Not much," and I would walk away from the idea of building such a game.
I expect that if "nuclear power plant operator" were easily gamified, it would pay less.
posted by Rangi at 7:45 PM on November 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


software in those days was mostly bad

Garibaldi's Firebird.

The metric by which all games should be judged as - do you suck more than that?

http://www.virtualapple.org/threemileislanddisk.html and then you can compare to
http://www.virtualapple.org/firebirddisk.html

A different "simulator"

http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=EJ278515&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=EJ278515
posted by rough ashlar at 7:52 PM on November 19, 2012


1436KW average on the second go around. Probably could have done better if I could take less than 15 days to start up the reactor. Once it gets going it generates about 1800KW. Surprisingly easy, this nuclear reactor operator thing. Looks like it's time for a new job!
posted by wierdo at 7:54 PM on November 19, 2012


Whew, all this computer hacking is making me thirsty. Think I'll order a Tab. *presses Tab key*
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:55 PM on November 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


"Hey, Miss Doesn't-find-me-attractive-sexually-anymore, I just tripled my productivity!"
posted by arcticseal at 7:56 PM on November 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Doh.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 8:01 PM on November 19, 2012


Doh.

If I can't do this, then how the hell does Homer Simpson do it?
posted by A Bad Catholic at 8:08 PM on November 19, 2012


Start with rods at 20 percent, both cooling loops at 85%. Click through to day 13, drop rods to 13 percent, change the primary to 90, the secondary to 100%. About day 45, the temps will start to drop, raise rods to 14%. About Day 57, they'll start to drop again, rods to 15%.

Add a point of control rods whenever the temps start falling (change is negative.) About day 70, you'll need to add two points, about day 85, you'll need to add three points. Once you hit 30%, make your next jump to 40%, then to 50%, then to 60%, then 100%.

Average Power Output -- 1662KW, very light damage. You might get a few more by limiting the cooling a bit more at the start, or starting with a bit more control rod out, but it's way easy to lose it that way.
posted by eriko at 8:09 PM on November 19, 2012


1664KW, very light damage, but I've played this one a few times before. If you go through the startup process a few times, you can figure out how to start at the 100% control rod position and quickly throttle it back to get a fast startup without melting a hole to China.
posted by zachlipton at 8:19 PM on November 19, 2012



Garibaldi's Firebird.

The metric by which all games should be judged as - do you suck more than that?

http://www.virtualapple.org/threemileislanddisk.html and then you can compare to
http://www.virtualapple.org/firebirddisk.html


what is this i don't even

I'm supposed to be catching falling infants? But then they just stick on the side of the ladder and I can't do anything else?
posted by junco at 8:20 PM on November 19, 2012


Cowboy NPP Operator: Gun it pedal to the metal, heat er up in one week:

Recipe: Set both coolant loops to 100% and never touch em.

Day 1: Control rods 100% out (wummmmm)
Day 2: Control rods 0% (ohshit)
Day 3: Control rods 50%
Day 4: Control rods 0%
Day 5: Control rods 25%
Day 6: Control rods 20%
Day 7: Control rods 15%

After that, just tweak the control rods down a few percent at a time to keep the reactor and turbine in the yellow zone. Soon after, you'll have to start opening up the control rods to keep the reactor hot, more and more as the fuel drops. 1900kW average is doable.

This game is possibly the most boring part of running a nuclear plant. The fun starts when a pipe breaks.
posted by anthill at 8:21 PM on November 19, 2012


I'll just remember the words of advice that Ed Asner gave in a sketch on SNL back in 1984: "You can never put too much water in a nuclear reactor."
posted by not_on_display at 8:27 PM on November 19, 2012


I was doing all right with this until the Israeli air strike.
posted by fredludd at 8:52 PM on November 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


stupid game

every time it tells me that it's going to be hot and sunny today, I crank up production for the day, but nobody ever winds up buying any nuclear power and I wind up with a bunch of wasted leftovers
posted by DoctorFedora at 10:10 PM on November 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


"You can never put too much water in a nuclear reactor."

Really? Might wan't to compare notes with TEPCO and Fukushima. Seems a tidal wave is too much.
posted by pdxpogo at 10:30 PM on November 19, 2012


I bet someone would get a lot of traffic if they made a big old simulation of Chernobyl, with realistic panels and a re-creation of the sequence of problems that day. That would be interesting to try.
posted by crapmatic at 12:33 AM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I got it running pretty much where I wanted it to by day three, edged primary cooling up just a hair and it started to overheat (WTF) so I took primary cooling way up and had a meltdown (again, WTF). I think it's chunking time way to coarsely to simulate much of anything.

I suspect that the person who wrote the game is trying to make the point that nuclear reactors are complicated beasts that sometimes behave counter-intuitively. This turns out to be true. However, they haven't made their point very well if people can walk away from the game saying "Well, it must not be a very good simulation because it didn't do what I expected."

One of the complications with nuclear reactors is that after the reactor is running, you the primary fuel and the final waste products, but you also have all kinds of intermediate nuclei that are themselves radioactive. They can undergo nuclear reactions themselves and therefore can serve as secondary fuel sources. They also decay and therefore dump energy into the reactor core on timescales anywhere from seconds (or less) to weeks to years (or more). The amount of any given secondary nucleus is determined by the details of the past history of the reactor. You can easily get yourself into a situation where you've built up enough secondary products that decay on ~few day timescales that, a few days in the future, the energy they release in the reactor core will overwhelm your cooling capacity and a meltdown is assured. You have a "walking dead" reactor at that point.

Then there's the issue of neutron resonances. It turns out that many nuclear reactions depend sensitively on the energy of the neutron hitting the nucleus. If the neutron is a little more or a little less energetic, nothing much happens. But if the energy of the neutron is just right, a particular reaction goes like crazy. Reactors have control rods (which absorb neutrons and slow down the reaction) and usually also moderator rods (which slow down but do not absorb neutrons so that they're more likely to interact before leaving the reactor core. So imagine a situation where you can have the moderator rods 84% inserted or 86% inserted and everything's fine, but if you have them 85% inserted, the reactor generates much more energy. I doubt the simulation takes neutron resonances into account, but real nuclear engineers must do so.

All of this is just to say that controlling a nuclear power plant is not easy. Whether it's possible in principle to control one well enough to push the risk of a severe accident to acceptable levels is an interesting question. Whether it's possible to do so in the real world given our present political, social, legal, and managerial institutions is another interesting question. The one thing that's certain is that running a fission reactor is definitely not a piece of cake.
posted by ngc4486 at 2:13 AM on November 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Whether it's possible in principle to control one well enough to push the risk of a severe accident to acceptable levels is an interesting question.

Interesting?

To obtain a few extra sub 10 cent kWH, a tad more money, it is an "interesting question" to ask "can you increase risk" when the cost of failure far exceeds the market cap of your company?

But nothings is beyond American Companies willingness to go for extra money when the US Government covers your loss. (See The Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act - the idea is Government will provide a backstop 'till fission power is safe enough that market insurance will be able to cover the activity.)
posted by rough ashlar at 3:19 AM on November 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I got it running pretty much where I wanted it to by day three, edged primary cooling up just a hair and it started to overheat (WTF) so I took primary cooling way up and had a meltdown (again, WTF). I think it's chunking time way to coarsely to simulate much of anything.

Ignoring the fiddly nuclear bit, from a thermodynamics standpoint you can think of "primary cooling" like the throttle on your car. It's cooling the reactor, yes, but it's also the mechanism that governs how quickly electricity is being generated - more primary cooling means more heat at the turbine which generates more electricity. That also means you have to balance an increase of primary cooling with an increase in secondary cooling, which is really what is keeping the whole thing from going up in smoke.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:15 AM on November 20, 2012


TSUNAMI!
posted by Artw at 7:04 AM on November 20, 2012


Latest version is here: http://ae4rv.com/games/nuke.htm
posted by ae4rv at 7:15 AM on November 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Am I the only one who played Chernobyl the game on the C64? Loved that game for some reason.
posted by MrBobaFett at 10:40 AM on November 20, 2012


Now someone should make a CANDU reactor simulation, so that there is an 'easy mode'.
posted by Canageek at 1:21 PM on November 20, 2012


You are a RTG.

> SIT

You generate heat.
posted by Artw at 1:27 PM on November 20, 2012


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