15. Troubleshooting

15.1. Problems with Compilation

If you are experiencing problems trying to compile OpenMC, first check if the error you are receiving is among the following options.

15.2. Problems with Simulations

15.2.1. Segmentation Fault

A segmentation fault occurs when the program tries to access a variable in memory that was outside the memory allocated for the program. The best way to debug a segmentation fault is to re-compile OpenMC with debug options turned on. Create a new build directory and type the following commands:

mkdir build-debug && cd build-debug
cmake -Ddebug=on /path/to/openmc

Now when you re-run your problem, it should report exactly where the program failed. If after reading the debug output, you are still unsure why the program failed, post a message on the OpenMC Discourse Forum.

15.2.2. ERROR: No cross_sections.xml file was specified in settings.xml or in the OPENMC_CROSS_SECTIONS environment variable.

OpenMC needs to know where to find cross section data for each nuclide. Information on what data is available and in what files is summarized in a cross_sections.xml file. You need to tell OpenMC where to find the cross_sections.xml file either with the <cross_sections> Element in settings.xml or with the OPENMC_CROSS_SECTIONS environment variable. It is recommended to add a line in your .profile or .bash_profile setting the OPENMC_CROSS_SECTIONS environment variable.

15.2.3. RuntimeError: Failed to open HDF5 file with mode ‘w’: summary.h5

This often occurs when working with the Python API and executing multiple OpenMC runs in a script. If an openmc.StatePoint is open in the Python interpreter, the file handle of the statepoint file as well as the linked summary.h5 file will be unavailable for writing, causing this error to appear. To avoid this situation, it is recommended that data be extracted from statepoint files in a context manager:

with openmc.StatePoint('statepoint.10.h5') as sp:
    k_eff = sp.k_combined

or that the StatePoint.close() method is called before executing a subsequent OpenMC run.

15.2.4. Geometry Debugging Overlapping Cells

For fast run times, normal simulations do not check if the geometry is incorrectly defined to have overlapping cells. This can lead to incorrect results that may or may not be obvious when there are errors in the geometry input file. The built-in 2D and 3D plotters will check for cell overlaps at the center of every pixel or voxel position they process, however this might not be a sufficient check to ensure correctly defined geometry. For instance, if an overlap is of small aspect ratio, the plotting resolution might not be high enough to produce any pixels in the overlapping area.

To reliably validate a geometry input, it is best to run the problem in geometry debugging mode with the -g, -geometry-debug, or --geometry-debug command-line options. This will enable checks for overlapping cells at every move of esch simulated particle. Depending on the complexity of the geometry input file, this could add considerable overhead to the run (these runs can still be done in parallel). As a result, for this run mode the user will probably want to run fewer particles than a normal simulation run. In this case it is important to be aware of how much coverage each area of the geometry is getting. For instance, if certain regions do not have many particles travelling through them there will not be many locations where overlaps are checked for in that region. The user should refer to the output after a geometry debug run to see how many checks were performed in each cell, and then adjust the number of starting particles or starting source distributions accordingly to achieve good coverage. ERROR: After particle __ crossed surface __ it could not be located in any cell and it did not leak.

This error can arise either if a problem is specified with no boundary conditions or if there is an error in the geometry itself. First check to ensure that all of the outer surfaces of your geometry have been given vacuum or reflective boundary conditions. If proper boundary conditions have been applied and you still receive this error, it means that a surface/cell/lattice in your geometry has been specified incorrectly or is missing.

The best way to debug this error is to turn on a trace for the particle getting lost. After the error message, the code will display what batch, generation, and particle number caused the error. In your settings.xml, add a <trace> Element followed by the batch, generation, and particle number. This will give you detailed output every time that particle enters a cell, crosses a boundary, or has a collision. For example, if you received this error at cycle 5, generation 1, particle 4032, you would enter:

<trace>5 1 4032</trace>

For large runs it is often advantageous to run only the offending particle by using particle restart mode with the -r command-line option in conjunction with the particle restart files that are created when particles are lost with this error.