Helping companies use high-performance computing to improve U.S. manufacturing

Manufacturers understand the potential of supercomputers to optimize the design and manufacture of their products while increasing the bottom line. But the cost to own one is prohibitive and requires a comprehensive knowledge of advanced modeling and simulation techniques.

To ease some of that burden, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is providing U.S. companies access to its world-class computing resources and technical expertise through an innovative program that uses high-performance computing (HPC) to solve pressing manufacturing and materials development challenges.

The High Performance Computing for Energy Innovation (HPC4EI) program consists of two subprograms — one focused on manufacturing (HPC4Mfg) and the other on materials (HPC4Mtls). Companies interested in either program can apply for up to $300,000 in funding, generally twice per year. Awardees can suggest a national laboratory as a partner, or program officials may match companies with national laboratories. Awardees then enter a collaborative agreement with a national laboratory that protects the company’s rights to generated data and new intellectual property.

When Argonne is involved, company researchers partner with scientists in Argonne’s research divisions and at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF), a DOE Office of Science User Facility. At ALCF, U.S. manufacturers can access computing resources that are up to 100 times more powerful than systems typically used by corporations.

Argonne has made it a priority to align its computing and computational science expertise with researchers who develop advanced technologies for U.S. manufacturers. Some of the most successful HPC4EI projects took advantage of this expertise, as well as Argonne’s capabilities in advanced modeling and data analysis, to advance their company’s manufacturing or materials goals.

The HPC4EI program is the best fit for companies with an energy-focused project in mind that could uniquely benefit from large-scale HPC resources. Projects that involve substantial energy savings for the company or the end-user, or that support the development of new clean-energy technologies, are favored.

Argonne has already worked with many companies to bring the power of HPC to industry. Argonne’s experience in developing high-fidelity complex simulations, harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI), and conducting deep data analysis with enhanced visualizations has contributed to the success of many HPC4EI projects, including:

Reducing harmful emissions in diesel engines
Argonne worked with Caterpillar Inc. to improve efficiency and reduce emissions in their heavy-duty diesel engines. They ran hundreds of high-fidelity combustion simulations to identify promising piston bowl designs — the combustion chambers in diesel engines — that could improve fuel efficiency while reducing harmful emissions.

Designing a more efficient aircraft engine
Raytheon Technologies Research Center is working with Argonne to design a more efficient aircraft engine. They are leveraging HPC and machine learning to create accurate models that predict air flow and heat transfer inside a gas turbine engine, identifying fine-scale surface effects that could not have been discovered with physical experiments alone. These simulations will enable Raytheon to modify their manufacturing process to minimize heat loss and maximize durability of their engine components.

Manufacturing defect-free steel slabs
The use of Argonne’s HPC resources enabled ArcelorMittal Global Research and Development to develop new technologies and energy-efficient methods for manufacturing defect-free steel slabs. The project not only resulted in less energy use for ArcelorMittal, which runs the largest steel mill in North America, but the new manufacturing process also produced higher-quality cast steel with less greenhouse gas emissions.

Optimizing manufacturing processes
Using machine learning and computational fluid dynamics, Argonne helped 3M optimize a fiber spinning manufacturing process used in the production of filters, fabrics and insulation. The collaborative effort, conducted through the HPC4Mfg program, helped minimize the amount of energy used in producing these materials, reducing the overall cost of production.

These are just a few examples of how Argonne is working with industry partners through the HPC4EI program to invent the manufacturing processes of the future.

The HPC4EI program is sponsored by the Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) within the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Office.

Companies interested in working with Argonne should contact Argonne at [email protected].

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy supports early-stage research and development of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies to strengthen U.S. economic growth, energy security, and environmental quality.

The Argonne Leadership Computing Facility provides supercomputing capabilities to the scientific and engineering community to advance fundamental discovery and understanding in a broad range of disciplines. Supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science, Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) program, the ALCF is one of two DOE Leadership Computing Facilities in the nation dedicated to open science.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://energy.gov/science.