Summit Simulations to Change How we Drive and Explore Space

At the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee, Professor Joe Oefelein, from the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Georgia Tech, is heading up a team of researchers working to solve the multifaceted grand challenge of simulating turbulent reactive flows in propulsion and power systems.

Turbulent flows occur in everything from diesel engines, to gas turbines in planes, internal combustion car engines, and space rockets.

Watch below as Oefelein explains that when fuel and an oxidizer mix it is extremely difficult to know how combustion will occur in different conditions. This instability produces emissions, limits energy efficiency, and in the case of rockets can destroy an engine in a millisecond.

Simulating turbulence involves a myriad of changing measurements as well as physics phenomena. “We are talking fluid dynamics, thermodynamics, heat transfer – all going on at once,” says Oefelein.

“The sheer magnitude of interactions makes simulating and modeling turbulence reliably one of science’s great challenges.”

Helping the team overcome this challenge is Summit, the World’s fastest supercomputer powered by NVIDIA V100 GPUs and recently installed at ORNL in place of its predecessor Titan. Oefelein says Summit allows researchers to run their applications about 25 times faster than they ran on Titan, facilitating calculations that they would not be able to make on any other machine in the world.

As they gradually refine and improve their predictive models, the team aims to usher in a new era of more powerful, economical, and environmentally friendly combustion engines.

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