Lisp at TROPIC

TROPIC TROPIC is a preprocessor to the RELAP thermal-hydraulic code.

1. Target users

TROPIC is intended for supporting engineers who are in charge of building simulation models, which describe on one hand the geometric structure, and initial conditions of a given plant (or a subsystem of it) and on the other hand control logics and reactor protection systems. The environment which has been created enables the user to generate automatically input decks much more easily and rapidly than by using the more elementary language of most thermal-hydraulic codes (RELAP).

2. Context

Development and validation of powerful second-generation thermal-hydraulic codes, combined to recent growth in computer power has enabled the development of high precision, interactive plant simulations. Handling of large simulation codes and analyzing huge amounts of information can be enhanced in an appropriate way by means of an automatic software generation tool (preprocessing) on one hand, and an assisted analyzing tool (postprocessing) on the other hand.

It is within that scope that Tractebel Energy Engineering develops a model builder called TROPIC (which stands for Tractebel Relap Object-oriented Preprocessing Interactive Code) with high level graphic functionalities.

3. Objectives

TROPIC is intended to meet the following objectives:
  • reduction in code syntax knowledge (e.g. flags)
  • permanent documentation of the input data set (nodalization)
  • availability of a user friendly tool
  • reduction of the cost (in term of man hours and computer costs)
  • reduction of the user reluctance to modify his deck
  • possibility of performing restart sessions very easily

4. General description

TROPIC is organized as an object-oriented two-dimensional CAD system. Several pictures can be used simultaneously, but a zooming capability allows to build a single picture with many objects. TROPIC represents all objects known by RELAP as "mouse sensitive" icons.

All objects are manipulated in a graphical way: they can be moved, copied, deleted. At any moment, an object can be edited by pointing at it with the mouse: a menu appears where all its attributes are listed explicitly.

Block operations are provided, where a generic action can be applied to group of objects.

Three kinds of objects appear on the pictures:
  • geometric items and character strings, with no RELAP objects associated, used to improve the presentation;
  • hydrodynamic components (volumes, junctions, pumps, valves, pipes...) and heat structures;
  • control blocks, used to describe the control logic in the model. They are organized in connected networks, very similar to analog computer building blocks (adders, integrators…). Connection terminals on these control diagrams are given names, so that they can be referenced in the hydrodynamic components. An algorithm will automatically assign numbers to the control blocks, from their connections, accounting for loops.
When an object is created, its attributes (e.g. for a volume: height, hydraulic diameter...) are input using a menu that dynamically adapts to the options chosen.

All flags are replaced by explicit questions, all prompts are made as self explanatory as possible, so that it is no longer necessary to know all the details of the RELAP manual. The selections are made with the mouse or the keyboard (when numbers or names must be input). These menus can be called at any moment.

A module is provided to simulate the control logic on line, without execution of the RELAP job, to make sure it behaves correctly.

Once the model is complete a coherence check is run. Then, if it is successful, the model is translated into RELAP input deck format. This check can also be activated without performing a translation.

A restart input deck generation facility is provided.

5. Environment

TROPIC version 4.1 runs on UNIX workstations such as Apollo DN 10000 and HP. The TROPIC kernel is written in Lucid Common Lisp, the interface modules are written in C and built on the top of the X Window System. The OSF/Motif window manager is used.
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Last update : 22/12/2000