Simulation of transmutation and decay in nuclear systems
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$Id: README,v 1.5 2005-01-17 22:11:04 wilsonp Exp $

Analytic and Laplacian Adaptive Radioactivity Analysis (ALARA)

Thank you for your interest in ALARA.

The primary purpose of ALARA is to calculate the induced activation caused by neutron irradiation throughout a nuclear system (including fission reactors, fusion reactors, and accelerators). Some projects currently using ALARA include ARIES, IFMIF and the Z-Pinch Power Plant study.

Special Features of ALARA

ALARA takes full advantage of being a newly developed code by implementing the best features of the previous generation of activation codes and, at the same time, addressing their various weaknesses. Furthermore, an entirely new set of features has been implemented and continued development will allow it to respond to the evolving needs of the entire user community. ALARA's three main design principles are accuracy, speed, and usability. ALARA matches the previous generation of activation codes in accuracy and is much faster. This is achieved by adaptively choosing the mathematical method at the smallest resolution in order to optimize both speed and accuracy.

ALARA distinguishes itself by including unique capabilities that are useful to engineers and designers:

unlimited number of reaction channels exact modeling of hierarchical arbitrary irradiation schedules reverse calculation mode

ALARA implements many of the standard features of activation codes including:

multi-point (3-D) solutions in a variety of geometries accurate solution of loops in activation trees exact modeling of multi-level pulsing irradiation histories user-defined calculation precision/accuracy tracking the accumulation of light ions straightforward, user-friendly input file creation full, easy-to-read activation tree output (not just pathway analysis) flexible output options NOW including the direct calculation of waste disposal ratings and clearance indices.

Build and Install


ALARA is written primarily in C++ with one or two FORTRAN77 routines. All development is done with the GNU C++ and FORTRAN compilers and it has been tested and is known to work on Linux and Solaris. Installing ALARA requires both a C++ and a FORTRAN compiler.


  1. Obtain the distribution from the appropriate source.

  2. Unpack the distribution.

    %> gunzip -c alara-2.7.1.tar.gz | tar xf -

  3. Go to newly created directory.

    %> cd alara-2.7.1

  4. Configure ALARA for your system

    %> autoreconf -fi

    %> ./configure

    See below for options that you can give to configure.

  5. Build the application

    %> make

  6. Install the application

    %> make install

Configuration Options

The configure program provides a lot of options for customizing the compilation and installation of ALARA. To learn more about the full set of options, you should check the built-in help:

%> ./configure --help

Some common options are listed here:


This option allows you to change the default location for the installation of ALARA and its accompanying files. The next section describes the different files that are installed and the directories in which they are installed. More control over the specific directories is also possible - see the built-in help for more information.

CXX=name_of_your_C++_compiler F77=name_of_your_F77_compiler

This option allows you to explicitly specify which C++ (or FORTRAN) compiler you want to use to compile ALARA. If left out, configure will search for default compilers.

Additional Notes on Installation

  1. When building ALARA, you should run 'configure' and 'make' from the main 'alara-2.x.y' directory and NOT from the 'src' directory.

  2. There is currently no set of tests to be conducted with 'make check'. Instead, some test/sample files are included in directory './sample'.

    They can all be run in succession, with output stored in a directory "sample_out" by changing to the sample directory and executing the script:

    %> cd sample %> ./ sample_out

    A reference set of output is available in directory './sample/ref_out'. You can expect difference between your test output and the reference output with respect to the timing results and the directory locations of output files.

    NOTE: the data in the sample folder is not suitable for real calculations and is a truncated library just for the purpose of these tests.

How to Use

Running alara can be done in one command line with various options.

%> alara [-h] [-r] [-t <tree_filename>] [-V] [-v <n>] [<input_filename>]

Please reference the user guide for specific options and more information.

Additional Notes

In addition to building and installing the ALARA program, this package includes an accessory program, dant2alara, and a pair of Perl scripts for post-processing data.

dant2alara... an interactive program for converting RTFLUX/ATFLUX files (from DANTSYS and similar) to text based flux files for use in ALARA. Since ALARA can read RTFLUX files directly, this use may not be useful. On the other hand, the biological dose method requires ggamma source to dose conversion factors from an ATFLUX type file, which can not be handled directly by ALARA at this time.

extract_pathways... .... is a Perl script that scans an ASCII tree file and finds all the chains/pathways that result in a given isotope.

summary .... ... is a Perl script that extracts a summary of the output file, most notably removing all results for individual isotopes and leaving all totals. You can also extract results for a single specific isotopes by giving the argument "-iso" followed by the isotope in question written as a lower case atomic symbol hyphenated with the mass number. e.g. tritium is h-3.

More Information

Please visit the ALARA homepage for more information regarding all the above topics.