Welcome to the April 2014 edition of AMBER Update, the electronic newsletter for the AMBER software tool that allows users to build their own deterministic and probabilistic dynamic compartment models to represent the migration, degradation and fate of contaminants in environmental and engineered systems.

AMBER 5.7 Released

Quintessa is committed to the long-term development and support of AMBER. Software upgrades are provided annually to users with software maintenance agreements. AMBER 5.7 is the latest upgrade, which was finalised and distributed in December 2013.

Many of the developments for AMBER 5.7 focus on facilitating more intuitive exploration of models. It is now possible to chart directly from Model and Submodel windows by right-clicking on compartments and transfers (see screenshot). This will bring up the charting options with the chosen item pre-selected in the indexing. Parameter values can be explored via the Parameters window by right-clicking and selecting ‘Show Values’; the resulting table of values can now be copied to the clipboard.

Other new features include the following.

  • A new graphing option allows the user to plot results for each realisation of a probabilistic run on a single chart.
  • The case information window with additional summary information is now displayed when a case file is opened.
  • The time points within time-dependent import parameters can now be defined as switch time parameters to alert the time-stepping solver to the potential for discontinuities.

A demonstration version of AMBER 5.7.1, which addresses some minor features in the AMBER 5.7 release, is available to download for free from here. Please contact us if you have any questions about AMBER including how to obtain or upgrade a licence.

Major AMBER Developments

Over the past eighteen months, Quintessa has been working behind the scenes to bring major developments to AMBER. This includes important new capabilities that will build on AMBER’s existing powerful features. We will keep you informed about these major developments closer to the time of release.

Now is an ideal time for existing and potential AMBER users to provide feedback and ideas for developments.

AMBER Training in Accra

In September 2013, Quintessa delivered AMBER training to the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) in Accra, with the support of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The GAEC is using AMBER to assess the post-closure safety of potential borehole disposal of disused sealed radioactive sources. The training covered the context of modelling within a safety assessment methodology, the theory behind compartment modelling, exercises in using AMBER, as well as sessions reviewing the GAEC’s proposed implementation of the borehole disposal concept. The GAEC plans to use the experience gained through the training course, together with new site characterisation information, to up-date its post-closure safety assessment.

AMBER provides a powerful and generic modelling platform; however, it is the models and data that are implemented in the software that determine the outcome and level of confidence in a quantitative assessment. In addition to help-desk support, Quintessa delivers support to AMBER users through training in quantitative assessment methodologies as well as in the use of the software. Contact us if you have any questions about training course options.

AMBER and Quality Assurance

Quintessa recognises the importance placed on quality assurance of computer codes and models used to support quantitative assessment of contaminants in environmental systems. Key features about AMBER that contribute to assuring the quality of the code and the models implemented within the code are summarised below.

  • The AMBER code is developed within Quintessa’s ISO 9001:2008 registered quality management system, which includes accreditation against the TickIT scheme for software development. Each release is benchmarked against a documented suite of verification tests, each new feature is tested and pre-release versions are tested within Quintessa by application to assessment projects.

  • Input dialogues include description fields, while individual comments can be assigned to all input values, expressions and mapping items. In particular, the comments are very helpful in allowing users to annotate cases to explain every entry and/or to track the QA status of each entry.

  • All of the information within an AMBER model is stored within a single, text based case file with a logical layout. This simple, but extremely powerful feature allows:
    • case files to be printed, checked line-by-line against the model definition, signed and put on file as definitive evidence of quality assurance checks;
    • different case files to be compared, e.g. using freely available text comparison tools; and
    • ‘future-proof’ storage of all the equations and data used directly in undertaking assessment calculations.

AMBER Support

Quintessa continues to actively support AMBER, both through applying the software to safety and performance assessment studies associated with contaminants in the environment and in supporting the AMBER user base. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about AMBER, its application and/or our support programme.