DOE HPC4Mfg Program seeks to fund new proposals to jumpstart energy technologies

hpc (Download Image) By using high performance computing combined with advanced manufacturing and additive manufacturing, researchers can design and build new devices and materials with unique physical and microstructural properties. Shown above is a computer rendering of an octet truss that was produced by microstereolithography and has high stiffness and low density. The structure was designed from mechanical theory. Computer rendering by Ryan Chen.

LIVERMORE, Calif – A new U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) program designed to spur the use of high performance supercomputers to advance U.S. manufacturing is now seeking a second round of proposals from industry to compete for approximately $3 million in new funding.

The High Performance Computing for Manufacturing (HPC4Mfg) Program currently supports 15 projects partnering companies with DOE’s national labs to use the labs’ high-performance computing (HPC) systems to upgrade their manufacturing processes and bring new clean energy technologies to market.

The 15 projects underway, ranging from improved turbine blades for aircraft engines and reduced heat loss in electronics to improved fiberglass production, have each been awarded up to $300,000 for a total of nearly $4.5 million.

The partnerships use world-class supercomputers and scientific expertise from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), which leads the program, and partner laboratories Lawrence Berkeley and Oak Ridge national laboratories (LBNL and ORNL), which in turn team up with U.S. manufacturers.

"We are thrilled with the response from the U.S. manufacturing industry," said LLNL mathematician Peg Folta, the director of the HPC4Mfg program. "This program lowers the barrier of entry for U.S. manufacturers to adopt HPC.

"It makes it easier for a company to use supercomputers by not only funding access to the HPC systems, but also for experts in the use of these systems to solve complex problems."

Concept proposals from U.S. manufacturers can be submitted to the HPC4Mfg program. It is expected that another 8-10 projects worth approximately $3 million will be funded, with the applications due by April 21.

A number of companies and their initial concepts will be selected and paired with a national lab HPC expert to jointly develop a full proposal in June, with final selections to be announced in August. Go online for more information about the HPC4Mfg program, the solicitation call and submission instructions, can be found on the Web.

The HPC4Mfg program was created last year by the Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) within DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

"Access to supercomputers in the Department of Energy’s labs will provide a resource to American firms inventing and building clean energy technologies right here at home that no international competitor can match," said Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Danielson.

"The HPC4Mfg initiative pairs leading clean energy technology companies with the world-class computing tools and expertise at our national labs to drive down the cost of materials and streamline manufacturing processes. The ultimate goal of their collaboration is to increase our global competitiveness in the race to develop clean energy technology and jobs."

"While some larger manufacturing companies use advanced computing in developing their industrial processes, it is a challenge to stay on the leading edge of HPC technology in this rapidly advancing field, and few small to medium-sized companies have had experience in its use," Folta said.

"It is noteworthy," Folta added, "that DOE labs possess five of the top 12 HPC systems worldwide and also boost broad expertise in the applications of HPC systems."

By using HPC in the design of products and industrial processes, U.S. manufacturers can reap a number of benefits, such as accelerating innovation, lowering energy costs, shortening testing cycles, reducing waste and rejected parts and cutting the time to market.

Scientists at the national labs benefit by expanding computer codes and applying them to different problem areas. The skills and new applications they develop through these public-private partnerships can then be applied to DOE missions in such areas as energy, materials science and national security.

Although the program is presently focused on using national lab HPC resources to bolster manufacturing, it is possible that other fields, such as transportation, more efficient buildings and renewable energy also could benefit. As the program broadens, other national laboratory partners are expected to join.

Webinars scheduled for March 24 and April 5 at 11 a.m. PDT will provide an opportunity to learn more about the program and current solicitation, as well as ask questions. In addition, guidance in the development of concept papers will be offered. Registration information is available on the Web.