Scientific studies on climate change, energy and alternative
fuels are among the 30 projects awarded more than 145 million
processing hours on supercomputers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory through
the Department of Energy’s Innovative and Novel Computational
Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program.
Through INCITE, researchers from industry, academia and
government research facilities receive access to computing power at the
National Center for Computational Sciences at ORNL for research on
climate change, fusion energy, nanoscience, materials, chemistry,
astrophysics, and other areas.
"The Department of Energy's Office of Science has two of the
top 10 most powerful supercomputers, and using them through the INCITE
program is having a transformational effect on America's scientific and
economic competitiveness," DOE Under Secretary for Science Raymond L.
Orbach said. "Once considered the domain of only small groups of
researchers, supercomputers today are tools for discovery, driving
scientific advancement across a wide range of disciplines. We're proud
to provide these resources to help researchers advance scientific
knowledge and understanding and thereby to provide insight into major
scientific and industrial issues."
This year’s total allotment of processing hours
nearly doubles that which ORNL provided in 2007, when the largest
allocation was 10 million processor hours. The 2008 program will see
six projects with at least 10 million hours, and the largest allocation
is 18 million processor hours.
“By providing research access to supercomputing
facilities at ORNL, the 2008 INCITE program advances the scientific
discovery that is crucial to improving our lives and our understanding
of the world we live in,” ORNL Director Thom Mason said.
ORNL’s 2008 INCITE allocations include energy
projects related to biofuels such as ethanol; next-generation fuels
such as hydrogen; cleaner-burning, more efficient engines; and research
that will contribute to fusion energy projects such as the
multinational ITER reactor.
Climate scientists will also have a major presence among the
2008 recipients. Leading researchers from the National Center for
Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and other institutions will continue to
advance tools that predict climate change with unprecedented accuracy.
Other projects are delving into the role of ocean currents in
regulating climate, the relationship between carbon dioxide and abrupt
climate change, and the feasibility of storing carbon dioxide
“This INCITE grant will allow DOE and its partner
National Science Foundation to advance the state of climate and earth
system models, improve the horizontal and vertical resolution of the
models, and explore further the causes of present and future climate
change including various future energy policy strategies such as new
low-carbon-emission scenarios,” said Warren Washington, who
heads the NCAR team.
The program will continue to reflect the critical research
role played by American industry.
“We're extremely happy to be able to pursue our
research on ORNL’s leadership-class systems,” said
Jihui Yang, a General Motors researcher whose team is exploring
materials at the nanoscale, searching for ways to convert a
vehicle’s waste heat into usable electricity. “This
allocation will greatly advance our efforts to improve vehicle fuel
efficiency and promote American energy independence.”
Besides the General Motors effort, physicists from the Boeing
Company will continue using the systems for creating next-generation
tools for designing aircraft, and physicists from General Atomics will
continue their examination of turbulence in fusion reactors.
The 2008 allocations reflect an aggressive program of upgrades
to the Cray XT4 Jaguar supercomputer, which is in the midst of the
second of two major upgrades in a year. When the current project is
complete, Jaguar’s 31,000 processing cores will be capable of
275 trillion calculations a second, or 275 teraflops—a
fourfold increase over a year ago.
Jaguar’s increased processing power is reflected in
the size of the allocations being made available to individual
projects. Whereas the largest allocation in 2007 was 10 million
processor hours, 2008 will see six separate projects with at least 10
million hours, and the largest allocation is 18 million processor
hours. The 2008 INCITE program and the large allocations enabled by Oak
Ridge’s NCCS Leadership Computing Facility will give
researchers an invaluable opportunity to continue pushing the
boundaries of knowledge, and their efforts promise to improve both our
lives and our understanding of the world we live in.
The 2008 INCITE awards adds to the impressive roster of
scientific achievements at ORNL made possible by the unique DOE
leadership computing capabilities at the NCCS.
In 2007, astrophysicists from ORNL and North Carolina State
University released the first explanation for the spin of a pulsar that
matches observation, publishing their findings in the preeminent
journal Nature. In that same month, a team of chemists from ORNL and
the University of Tennessee released findings that advance our
knowledge of adsorption, the molecular process responsible for
catalytic converters, chemical sensors, and thousands of other
products. Their work appeared as the cover story in the Journal of
Physical Chemistry C. Later in the year, National Geographic featured
the work of NCCS users from the University of
California–Santa Cruz and the University of Arizona in a
discussion of the exploding stars known as supernovas.
Also, a team of fusion researchers from ORNL, the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, and other
institutions verified the effectiveness of the heating mechanism that
will be used in the multinational ITER reactor. NCCS users are visible
throughout the science world and were responsible for well over 300
journal articles and invited presentations in 2007.