If you had access to the world’s #1 supercomputer, what would you do? Figure out whatever happened to the legendary PROMIS software developed for the U.S. Department of Justice? Predict the impact of an imminent financial collapse due to multiple simultaneous market failures due to the climate crisis? Me too.
Well, the team at GE Research had other plans in mind when the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) selected a GE project among 47 winners in the 15th year of its Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program. The project? Find new methods for optimizing jet engine and power generation efficiency with 3D printing.
The INCITE program allows science and engineering projects to use some of the country’s powerful supercomputers from such labs as Oak Ridge, Argonne, and Sandia National Laboratories to perform advanced calculations, simulations and other operations with the goal of making new scientific and technological discoveries. This, in turn, is meant to increase U.S. competitiveness in the global market. The processing power and time offered by supercomputers like Titan and Summit at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Sierra at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are roughly the equivalents of running 10,000 computer processors simultaneously for over 9 months.
In the case of GE Research, the project team, led by Michal Osusky, will positively impact GE’s design of gas turbines, which drive aircraft engines and the power generation equipment essential to GE’s Oil & Gas division. The team will leverage large eddy simulations to understand the flow physics that impact gas turbine performance. This includes: “flow mixing, boundary layer transitions, separated flows, multiscale flow structures, and coupling between high pressure turbine components.” The results of the studies will inform GE Research as it develops new, more efficient turbine designs that may ultimately lead to new, 3D printed parts.
Osusky, from GE Research’s Thermosciences group, said of the ability to use the DOE’s supercomputers, “We’re able to conduct experiments at unprecedented levels of speed, depth and specificity that allow us to perceive previously unobservable phenomena in how complex industrial systems operate. Through these studies, we hope to innovate new designs that enable us to propel the state of the art in turbomachinery efficiency and performance.”
Due to the abstract nature of the work performed using supercomputers, it may be difficult to determine exactly what impact the research being conducted with them has on society and the planet at large. After all, massively parallel supercomputers featuring tens of thousands of off-the-shelf processors only became mainstream in the 1990s.
Supercomputers play an important role in a great deal of advanced research, including quantum physics, weather forecasting and climate research, oil and gas exploration and molecular modeling, among other fields. Because they have likely influenced GE’s design work already, they will surely advance the conglomerate’s ongoing and future development.
Osusky also highlighted past partnerships with National Labs that could lead to improving the energy output of wind turbines by 5 percent, allowed GE to improve combined cycle power plant efficiency, and gave GE insight into the performance of jet engines. Previous work with the Sierra supercomputer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory allowed GE to test simulations of fuel injectors, which are difficult to test physically. Supercomputer simulations therefore make it possible to reduce the number of trials required to test them.
These incremental advancements in jet fuel nozzles or gas power facilities may not be enough, however, to achieve the efficiency necessary to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050, particularly when you think of the fuel efficiency achieved when flying and power generation are reduced overall. If you’re interested learning about other winners of the INCITE grants, including one related to studying climate, you can review the projects here.
You May Also Like
3D Printing News Briefs, August 25, 2021: Software Beta, Self-Replicating Printer, & More
We’re starting with materials in today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, as XJet as announced the commercial availability of alumina ceramic. Moving on, Raise3D has announced the ideaMaker 4.2.0 beta, and...
Facility for Mass Roll-to-Roll 3D Printing to Be Opened by MIT Spinout
Massachusetts manufacturing startup OPT Industries uses automation engineering, computational design, and materials science to develop and manufacture customizable functional materials for 3D printing. The MIT spinout company became well-known for its...
3D Printed Sensor Created by Fraunhofer and ARBURG
One of the many Holy Grails of 3D printing is the ability to 3D print fully functional items in a single build process. Companies like Inkbit and Sakuu are after...
Inkbit Raises $30M in Series B Funding, Plans to Expand Production of 3D Printing System
MIT spinout Inkbit has raised $30 million in a Series B funding round led by venture capital firm Phoenix Venture Partners (PVP). The company intends to use the funds to...
View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.