US delivers record 1.7B supercomputing hours to boost energy research

DOE Jaguar, Intrepid supercomputers will drive new energy research

doe jaguar
The US Department of Energy has awarded a massive amount of its world-class supercomputing time to 57 research projects looking at everything from biofuels and climate change to nuclear power and lithium air batteries.

The DOE is awarding time on its Cray XT5 "Jaguar" at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the IBM Blue Gene/P "Intrepid" at Argonne National Laboratory. Jaguar's computational capacity is roughly equivalent to 109,000 laptops all working together to solve the same problem. Intrepid is roughly equivalent to 26,000 laptops, the DOE stated.  

10 hot energy projects that could electrify the world

The DOE says the 1.7 billion processor hours on are its largest total award ever - and let researchers use powerful computer simulations to perform virtual experiments that in most cases would be impossible or impractical in the natural world.  The wards also reflect the growing sophistication of the field of computer modeling and simulation and the rapid expansion of supercomputing capabilities at DOE National Laboratories, the agency stated.

The awards fall under the DOE's Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program that focuses on renewable energy and environmental research. The DOE stated that the selected research projects were chosen for their potential to advance scientific discoveries, speed technological innovations, and strengthen industrial competitiveness and for their ability to make use of hundreds of thousands of processors to work in concert to do so. More than half of the projects are led by university researchers, with the remainder of the awards going to government and industry scientists and engineers, the agency stated.

Some of the 57 awards from the DOE were as follows (the full list is here):

Understanding the Ultimate Battery Chemistry: Rechargeable Lithium/Air: A research consortium will study and demonstrate a working prototype of a rechargeable Lithium/Air battery. The Lithium/Air battery can potentially store ten times the energy of a Lithium/Ion battery of the same weight. Realizing this enormous potential is a very challenging scientific problem. If successful, this will enable rechargeable batteries that compete directly with gasoline, making fully electric vehicles practical and widespread.

Hydrogen as Alternative Fuel - Simulation:  Hydrogen is a clean fuel that, when consumed, emits only water and oxygen making it a potentially promising part of our clean energy future. Researchers will use the Jaguar supercomputer to better understand how hydrogen and hydrogen compounds could be used as a practical fuel for producing power and heat.

Modeling Nuclear Reactors for Electrical Power: Utilizing the power of the Jaguar supercomputer, the research team will study the power distribution in a boiling water reactor, a type of nuclear reactor used for the generation of electrical power. By using novel computational tools researchers will focus on improving performance of both current and next-generation reactors potentially saving millions of dollars, through increased power efficiency and a reduction in fuel failures.

Petascale Modeling of Nano-electronic Devices: With the advent of nanoscale fabrication, a new generation of nanoelectronic devices is expected to produce enormous advances not only in computing and information technologies, but also in other fields such as medicine. The new generation of device models is atomistic and needs to account for strain, surface roughness, disorder, and impurities that can affect properties and performance of nanoelectronic devices. Whereas classical physics was used to build very successful semiconductor device models in the past, nanoscale devices require a quantum mechanical description to correctly model properties of the device.

Climate-Science,  The Climate End Station II: The Climate Science Computational End Station (CCES) will project future climate change.  Climate change simulations and climate variability studies will directly inform national science policy, thereby contributing to the DOE, NSF and NASA science missions. Of particular importance are global high resolution simulations that will improve the scientific basis, accuracy, and fidelity of climate models. Continuing model development and extensive testing of the Community Earth System Model (CESM) to include recent new knowledge about ocean and land ecosystems is at the cutting edge of climate science research.

In Sept., the DOE spent $30.4 million on cybersecurity projects it says will go a long way towards addressing the nation's electric grid cybersecurity issues. These new projects are in addition to the $3.4 billion in stimulus grants to electric utilities got last year for over 100 Smart Grid modernization projects.

The idea with the projects funded this week - including two new cybersecurity collaborative groups -- is to research, develop, and commercialize a range of cybersecurity services to strengthen the US energy infrastructure against cyber intrusion and assist operators in complying with cybersecurity regulations. 

Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8  

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