Berkeley Lab Scientists Get Time on Nation's Fastest Computer
To Advance Research in Cleaner, Renewable Energy Technologies
Media Contact: Jon Bashor, email@example.com, 510-486-5849
November 30, 2010
BERKELEY, Calif.—Scientists at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have been awarded massive allocations on the nation's most powerful supercomputer to advance innovative research in improving the combustion of hydrogen fuels and increasing the efficiency of nanoscale solar cells. The awards were announced today (Tuesday, Nov. 30) by Energy Secretary Steven Chu as part of DOE’s Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program.
The INCITE program selected 57 research projects that will use supercomputers at Argonne and Oak Ridge national laboratories to create detailed scientific simulations to perform virtual experiments that in most cases would be impossible or impractical in the natural world. The program allocated 1.7 billion processor-hours to the selected projects. Processor-hours refer to how time is allocated on a supercomputer. Running a 10-million-hour project on a laptop computer with a quad-core processor would take more than 285 years.
"The Department of Energy's supercomputers provide an enormous competitive advantage for the United States," said Secretary Chu. "This is a great example of how investments in innovation can help lead the way to new industries, new jobs, and new opportunities for America to succeed in the global marketplace."
|Simulation of a lean hydrogen-air mixture burning in a low-swirl injector. The colors indicate the presence of nitric oxide emissions near the highly wrinkled flame, while the gray structures at the flame base show the turbulent vorticity generated near the breakdown of the swirling flow from the injector.|
Reducing Dependence on Fossil Fuels
One strategy for reducing U.S. dependence on petroleum is to develop new fuel-flexible combustion technologies for burning hydrogen or hydrogen-rich fuels obtained from a gasification process. John Bell and Marcus Day of Berkeley Lab's Center for Computational Sciences and Engineering, were awarded 40 million hours on the Cray supercomputer "Jaguar" at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF) for "Simulation of Turbulent Lean Hydrogen Flames in High Pressure" to investigate the combustion chemistry of such fuels.
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 transportation and power generation.
Nanomaterials Have Big Solar Energy Potential
|ZnO nanorods could serve as the foundation of future electronics. But scientists must first understand their many unique qualities. Scientists can do this by running the linear scaling three dimensional fragment method (LS3DF) on a supercomputer. This image is a ZnO nanorod calculated with LS3DF. With this computation, scientists found the structure's large surface dipole momentis, a property that significantly changes the its internal electronic structure.|
Currently, nanoscale solar cells made of inorganic systems suffer from low efficiency, in the range of 1–3 percent. In order for the nanoscale solar cells to have an impact in the energy market, their efficiencies must be improved to more than 10 percent. The goal of Wang's project is to understand the mechanisms of the critical steps inside a nanoscale solar cell, from how solar energy is absorbed, then converted into usable electricity. Although many of the processes are known, some of the corresponding critical aspects of the nano systems are still not well understood.
Because Wang studies systems with 10,000 atoms or more, he relies on large-scale allocations such as his INCITE award to advance his research. To make the most effective use of his allocations, Wang and collaborators developed the Linearly Scaling Three Dimensional Fragment (LS3DF) method. This allows Wang to study systems that would otherwise take over 1,000 times longer on even the biggest supercomputers using conventional simulation techniques. LS3DF won an ACM Gordon Bell Prize in 2008 for algorithm innovation.
Advancing Supernova Simulations
|Type 1a supernova simulation developed using the CASTRO code. Image by Haitao Ma of UC Santa Cruz.|
Type Ia supernovae (SN Ia) are the largest thermonuclear explosions in the modern universe. Because of their brilliance and nearly constant luminosity at peak, they are also a "standard candle" favored by cosmologists to measure the rate of cosmic expansion. Yet, after 50 years of study, no one really understands how SN Ia work. This project aims to use these applications to model the beginning-to-end processes of these exploding stars.
About Berkeley Lab
Berkeley Lab is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified scientific research and is managed by the University of California. Visit our website at www.lbl.gov.
For more information about computing sciences at Berkeley Lab, please visit: www.lbl.gov/cs