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Berkeley Lab to Partner with Five U.S. Manufacturers Via HPC4Mfg Program

August 30, 2016

Contact: Kathy Kincade, kkincade@lbl.gov, 510-495-2124

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The U.S. Department of Energy’s High Performance Computing for Manufacturing (HPC4Mfg) Program has announced $3.8 million in funding for 13 new industry projects in the second round of the HPC4Mfg program, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has been selected to partner with five of the new projects.

HPC4Mfg, established in March 2015, is designed to create an ecosystem that allows experts at DOE national labs to work directly with U.S. manufacturers to teach them how to adopt or advance their use of HPC to address challenging problems in manufacturing. The program gives participants access to world-class supercomputers and scientific expertise from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which leads the program, as well as Lawrence Berkeley and Oak Ridge national laboratories.

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

Here are the five projects Berkeley Lab is partnering on in this round:

  • PPG Industries (Berkeley Lab PI: James Sethian, Computational Research Division [CRD]): “Modeling Paint Behavior During Rotary Bell Atomization.” PPG, one of the largest suppliers of automotive paint, will use supercomputers at Berkeley Lab’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) to develop new coatings that can speed up production. The U.S. auto industry spray-applied over 60 million gallons of paint in 2014, much of it applied by an electrostatic rotary bell atomizer. Most bells can apply paint at 20 percent higher throughput than other methods, but atomization, which controls how fast the paint can be applied, suffers when the rate of fluid delivery is increased. PPG will model paint behavior during rotary bell atomization to come up with new kinds of paint that can be applied more quickly.
  • Carbon, Inc. (Berkeley Lab PI: Dan Martin, CRD): “Multi-physics Modeling of Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP) for Additive Manufacturing.” Additive manufacturing—the industrial version of 3D printing—is already used to make items such as medical implants and to produce plastic prototypes for engineers and designers. Carbon Inc. has developed an additive manufacturing technology (CLIP) to bring additive manufacturing to multiple American manufacturing sectors. But CLIP is far from a mature process, so Carbon will develop a computational model based on multiple chemical and physics processes to better predict part manufacturing outcomes using CLIP and increase the speed of manufacturing 3D polymer additive components.
  • The American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute (Berkeley Lab PI: Debbie Bard, NERSC): ”Accelerating Industrial Application of Energy-Efficient Alternative Separations.“ Distillation in the chemical industry accounts for roughly 10 percent of energy use in the U.S. While methods such as porous mass separating agents (MSAs) could achieve the same process using much less energy, the manufacturing community needs to gain a better understanding of how MSAs influence the flow process before this method can by applied to industrial applications. This study will use HPC to shed light on the MSA process and how it influences confined fluid behavior, with a long-term goal of significantly reducing the energy required for distillation in chemical manufacturing.
  • Alzeta Corporation (Berkeley Lab PI: Marcus Day, CRD): “Improving Gas Reactor Design With Complex Non-Standard Reaction Mechanisms in a Reactive Flow Model.” Alzeta designs and manufactures industrial equipment to destroy hazardous waste gases created by the fabrication processes used to make computer chips, photovoltaic devices, LEDs and flat panel displays. Many of these gases are harmful because they have high global warming potential. Through this project, Alzeta will use 2D and 3D modeling of gases and flow mechanisms to develop more energy-efficient methods of controlling these hazardous gases and improve equipment design.
  • Sepion Technologies (Berkeley Lab PI: David Prendergast, Molecular Foundry): “Improving the Manufacturability, Performance and Durability of Microporous Polymer Membrane Separators for Li–S Batteries using First Principles Computer Simulations.” Energy systems on board aircraft are rapidly being electrified by the aviation industry. To meet industry targets for these systems, next-generation batteries with high energy density are essential. Efforts to commercialize lightweight, energy-dense lithium-sulfur (LiS) batteries have been stalled by ongoing problems with the battery’s membrane, which limits battery lifetimes. Sepion will use NERSC resources to address key challenges in membrane manufacturing that could lead to longer lifetimes for Li-S batteries.

“The HPC4Mfg program is clear recognition of the HPC community’s potential to boost economic growth and improve our quality of life while reducing the effects of manufacturing on the environment,” said Sudip Dosanjh, director of NERSC. “With Cori, NERSC’s new Cray XC40 supercomputer; our workhorse XC30 system Edison; and Berkeley Lab's computational science expertise, we are well-positioned to work closely with U.S. manufacturers to advance innovative clean energy technologies and reduce energy and resource consumption to be globally competitive. We’re excited to be key partners in tackling these new opportunities.”

Through these partnerships, scientists at the national labs benefit by expanding computer codes and applying them to different problem areas.

“Supercomputer codes designed for discovery science are finding application across a broad range of energy-intensive industries,” said David Skinner, NERSC Strategic Partnerships lead. “HPC4Mfg brings the full suite of algorithms, software, people and computing together to make HPC accessible in applied areas.”

The skills and new applications developed through these public-private partnerships deliver impact 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, the modern electrical grid and advanced integrated circuitry, also could benefit. As the program broadens, other national laboratory partners are expected to join.