Morgantown, W.Va. — The Multiphase Flow Research Group at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has won a 2009 Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) award from the U.S. Department of Energy for their proposal “Clean and Efficient Coal Gasifier Designs using Large-Scale Simulations.” This is the second consecutive year that the team has won an INCITE award.
The NETL project is one of 66 to receive INCITE awards for 2009. According to the Energy Department’s Office of Science, the projects address “some of the greatest scientific challenges” and will receive access to “some of the world’s most powerful supercomputers.”
“From understanding the makeup of our universe to protecting the quality of life here on earth, the computational science now possible using DOE’s supercomputers touches all of our lives,” said DOE Under Secretary for Science Raymond Orbach, who launched INCITE in 2003. “By dedicating time on these supercomputers to carefully selected projects, we are advancing scientific research in ways we could barely envision 10 years ago, improving our national competitiveness.”
Madhava Syamlal, Chris Guenther, Thomas O’Brien, Aytekin Gel (Alpemi Consulting), and Sreekanth Pannala (ORNL) constitute the NETL team that will receive 13 million processor hours on the Cray XT supercomputers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The simulations conducted at Oak Ridge will help engineers better understand scientific questions in gas-solids flows as well as operating issues in gasifiers currently in operation, and will provide input to design engineers to address the commercial scale-up issues. The award provides the opportunity for renewal for 2010 for further research.
The planned simulations will provide never-before-seen details of the flow within the reactor, which will help engineers to improve the design of the gasifiers. Transport gasifiers contain a gas laden with coal particles that flows upward, converting coal into a fuel gas. These gasifiers operate at high pressure and temperatures, and very little is known about the details of the flow within the reactor. Questions such as how far the injected coal penetrates will be investigated.
Transient detailed information will be provided by these high fidelity simulations from inside a gasifier at resolutions that have never before been attempted in multiphase computational fluid dynamics, with each simulation requiring thousands of processors. The magnitude of the INCITE supercomputer allocation will allow researchers to conduct a variety of large-scale parametric studies for NETL’s industrial stakeholders.
The simulations will be conducted with NETL’s R&D 100 award-winning Multiphase Flow with Interface eXchanges (MFIX) code and with the patent-pending Continuum Coal Chemistry Module, winner of a 2008 Federal Laboratories Consortium award for excellence in technology transfer.
A 2008 INCITE award and a previous discretionary award have enabled the research team to modify MFIX to run efficiently on thousands of processors and to develop capabilities for analyzing and visualizing the massive amount of data generated by the high-resolution simulations.