For twenty years EDF R&D has been developing a numerical simulation software for structural analysis – Code_Aster – for the needs of research, the expertise studies of power plants, as well as for electricity transmission. This software covers a wide range of applications in mechanics.

Ambitions and motivations

EDF has to give proof its nuclear installations and equipment are reliable and of high-performance. Beyond the standard funtionalities of a finite elements software for solid mechanics, Code_Aster uses numerical models from specific research works designed to solve these issues, which enables the control of their implementation and a quick transfer to engineering studies. Code_Aster reaches the following ambitious goals :

- The availability of a powerful, robust and stable simulation software for engineering studies (about 200 users in-house and thousands as “free” users), used with quality assurance requirements.
- The use of the lessons learned from computational mechanics models developed by EDF R&D.

Constantly developed, updated and upgraded with new models, Code_Aster now contains more than 1.200.000 lines of source code, mostly in FORTRAN and Python.
Because of the nuclear industry quality requirements, most fields of the software have been validated by independent companies. This validation entails comparing analytical and experimental results, and benchmarking Aster against other programming languages. Moreover, 2.000 tests are run weekly: they are devoted to elementary validations and are useful as examples.
The documentation of Code_Aster contains more than 12.000 pages: user manuals, theory manuals containing EDF’s experience in computational mechanics, documentation of use tests and tutorials.

Overview of the applications of Code_Aster

In addition to the standard functions of a thermo-mechanics simulation software, Code_Aster is particularly rich in constitutive laws, finite elements and loading types. Its area of excellence lies in nonlinear simulations (material, large tranformation and contact). For more information about its possibilities, please read our general presentation brochure available on our website.

A free software  Since 2001, Code_Aster is distributed as a free software (GNU general public licence). In addition to the software itself and its open source code, all documentation is freely available.

Goals  Increasing the quality of the code thanks to extensive usage.- Being the support software of our partnerships.Six years later Code_Aster successfully spread worldwide (approximately 400 downloads a week since 2001) and now federates a significant network of users through its website forum. It was particularly honored by the free software community and won the Lutèce d’Or award (which is a prize for being the best free software developed by a major group (SCOS referencing).Thanks to its skills, performances, and to the nuclear industry quality requirements the software is well-appreciated among academic technical centers and research units, service suppliers and teachers. It is currently used in various industrial fields : geology, manufacturing, civil engineering, bio-mechanics, etc.