Digital twins are a combination of computational models and real-world data describing the form, function and condition of a system [see ‘Can you trust your digital twin?‘ on November 23rd 2016]. They are beginning to transform design processes for complex systems in a number of industries. We have been working on a proof-of-concept study for a digital reactor in fission energy based on the Integrated Nuclear Digital Environment (INDE) . The research has been conducted by the Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC) at the University of Liverpool together with partners from industry and national laboratories with funding from the UK Government for nuclear innovation. In parallel, I having been working with a colleague at the University of Manchester and partners at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy on the form of a digital environment for fusion energy taking account of the higher order of complexity, the scale of resources, the integration of novel technologies, and the likely diversity and distribution of organisations involved in designing, building and operating a fusion powerplant. We have had positive interactions with the regulatory authorities during the digital fission reactor project and the culture of enabling-regulation  offers an opportunity for a new paradigm in the regulation of fusion powerplants. Hence, we propose in a new PhD project to investigate the potential provided by the integration of digital twins with the regulatory environment to enable innovation in the design of fusion powerplants.
The PhD project is fully-funded for UK and EU citizens as part of a Centre for Doctoral Training and will involve a year of specialist training followed by three years of research. For more information following this link.
 Patterson EA, Taylor RJ & Bankhead M, A framework for an integrated nuclear digital environment, Progress in Nuclear Energy, 87:97-103, 2016.