Welcome to the Summer 2015 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 6.0 Close to Release

AMBER logo Quintessa is fully committed to the long-term development and support of AMBER. We have been working behind the scenes for the past two and a half years on bringing a major upgrade to AMBER. The new software, which will be called AMBER 6.0, is close to finalisation and will be distributed to users in Autumn 2015.

It is the largest upgrade that has been brought to AMBER users and includes:

  • spatial awareness and 3D visualisation of models, a major new capability;
  • a significant update to the user interface that further improves its user-friendliness, while being consistent with the look and feel of previous versions of AMBER; and
  • cross-platform support, for running on Windows and Linux operating systems.

Spatial Awareness

spatial awareness The majority of models implemented in AMBER are spatial in their essence. Traditionally, these types of models are implemented in contaminant transport modelling codes by the user having to painstakingly hard-wire spatial properties into 2D representations.

With the new software release, users have the option of assigning spatial dimensions, which means that compartments can be defined in three-dimensional space through associated x,y,z co-ordinates. AMBER is then able to automatically calculate a range of properties that can be used in the contaminant transport calculations, including compartment volumes, interface areas and transfer distances.

3D Visualisation

3D visualisation

Coupled with the spatial awareness, AMBER 6.0 includes a completely new way of visualising the contaminant transport models. The spatial component of the models can be set-up and explored within a three-dimensional framework. Spatial models are created by defining x,y points on a planar surface which can be built around a map of the area to be represented. Depth and height of the spatial 'cells' are then defined by assigning z co-ordinates. The structure can then be explored in three-dimensions so that users can fully visualise their models.

The new capabilities enable AMBER users to build spatial models efficiently and to visualise the resulting structure and discretisation in 3D. These features provide a unique modelling capability for this calibre of contaminant transport and fate code. They will also form the basis of future enhancements, including allowing the structure of spatial models to change with time and the capability to render time-dependent properties and results onto the 3D view.

New User Interface

The user interface for AMBER has been completely redeveloped in the new version. Reliance on multiple separate windows and dialogues has been replaced with a more integrated and flexible interface built around tabs and panels. The main tabs can be split so that multiple aspects of the model can be viewed at the same time, increasing the amount of information that is immediately available to the user. In addition, a full undo/redo capability has been built into the new interface from the start, which is a further useful feature for AMBER users.

screenshot of new user interface

DGR Project Recommended for Approval by JRP

deep geologic repository AMBER was used in support of the post-closure safety assessment component of the 2011 regulatory submission by Ontario Power Generation for a proposed Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) for low and intermediate level radioactive waste at the Bruce nuclear site in Canada.

A Joint Review Panel (JRP) was appointed to assess the submission and on 6th May 2015 published its findings. The JRP noted that the post-closure safety assessment documentation provided a clear and complete record of how decisions were made and what assumptions were adopted. Furthermore the JRP had confidence that the assessment was comprehensive and satisfied the relevant regulatory requirements.

The AMBER modelling in support of the submission was the topic of a presentation at the Waste Management 2015 conference in Phoenix this year.

Application to SR-Site Review

AMBER model AMBER has been used in support of the SSM's regulatory review of SKB's safety assessment, termed SR-Site, for a proposed deep geological repository for spent nuclear fuel at the Forsmark site in Sweden. AMBER has been used both in support of independent radionuclide transport calculations, as well as for independent modelling of the biosphere systems at Forsmark under present-day and future climate conditions.

The biosphere modelling was the subject of a recent paper in the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity.

IAEA AMBER Training Courses

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) assists its member states to build, strengthen and maintain safe management of radioactive wastes. Quintessa has provided technical support for IAEA initiatives over many years. Recent examples include the provision of training to Centro de Desenvolvimento da Tecnologia Nuclear (CDTN) in Brazil and Nuclear Malaysia in the use of AMBER to assess the potential of the Borehole Disposal Concept to provide a safe long-term solution for disused sealed radioactive sources. Training includes best-practice in safety assessment approaches, the theory behind compartment modelling, as well as exercises in using AMBER, with a particular focus on each national context.

IAEA training courses

AMBER Support

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