Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

HPC4Mfg: Pairing Bright Minds with Powerful Resources to Address Critical Challenges in Manufacturing

September 15, 2016

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A simulation of pressure applied to felt used to absorb water in a paper drying process is one of the projects that received funding from the Department of Energy. | <em>Photo courtesy of David Trebotich/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory</em>

A simulation of pressure applied to felt used to absorb water in a paper drying process is one of the projects that received funding from the Department of Energy. | Photo courtesy of David Trebotich/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

One of our greatest competitive advantages as a country is our access to the talented minds and capabilities at our network of National Laboratories. They bring unparalleled expertise in a range of cutting-edge fields – including the promising area of high-performance computing (HPC).

The goal of our High Performance Computing for Manufacturing (HPC4Mfg) program is to allow more entrepreneurs and innovators to tap into this technology. We have set out to partner innovative manufacturers from across the country with our world-class supercomputers and the Lab experts who know how to maximize their strength. These supercomputers are used to model, simulate, and analyze industrial products and processes with unrivaled speed and intelligence.

Our energy challenges are too complex for any single sector to solve alone - we’re always stronger when we’re working together. By sharing our innovation infrastructure with leading manufacturers, we reduce their risks and foster collaborative partnerships. Our role in these partnerships is to support the applied science and technology in a way that will encourage the private sector to adopt and further develop revolutionary technologies like HPC themselves.  

HPC4Mfg was created by our Advanced Manufacturing Office and is led by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, in partnership with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The program was launched in March of 2015 with a group of four seedling projects. We then announced an additional 10 Phase I projects earlier this year. One of our initial partnerships called Agenda 2020 has successfully developed a modeling framework for simulations of paper drying processes. The team is now working to test, calibrate, and improve the model in order to diversify the types of drying processes it can be used to simulate.

Recently we announced our second cohort of projects which will receive up to $300,000 each, representing both small and large companies across a diverse range of manufacturing sectors. With this talented group, we usher in 13 new projects, bringing the program’s total to 29 projects with 22 industry partners. These initiatives are helping our partners to accelerate innovation, lower energy costs, shorten testing cycles, reduce waste, and cut the time it takes new technologies to reach commercialization.

One example is a partnership between Alzeta Corporation of California and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) which aims to destroy waste streams from semiconductor processing that could potentially harm the ozone layer. Projects like this represent a win-win: Alzeta is able to eliminate byproducts that could be costly and energy-intensive to dispose of, while protecting the environment at the same time.

Another project brings together Applied Materials, Incorporated and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to enable the manufacture of higher quality, more efficient light-emitting diode, or LEDs, for lighting. This could improve energy consumption throughout the life cycle of LEDs, both during their manufacture and use, ultimately reducing costs for consumers.

Harper International Corporation of New York is partnering with Oak Ridge National Laboratory to reduce the cost of carbon fibers through high-capacity manufacturing. Carbon fiber has applications everywhere from the aerospace and automotive industries to sporting goods and wind turbine blades. Improving the efficiency of carbon fiber manufacturing could have ripple effects across many other manufacturing sectors. 

The HPC4Mfg program has seen exciting growth already. Just this week we announced another round of up to $3 million in funding for even more projects to advance energy technologies. We’ve also added new partners within the Department of Energy, with the Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) supporting HPC4Mfg with computing time on their systems through the ASCR Leadership Computing Challenge (ALCC) allocation program. This is truly a team effort. Together, we can drive innovation to remain a leader in the global clean energy race.

Find out more about the HPC4Mfg program here, and view a full list of projects here.