Exascale Computing Could Drastically Boost the Capabilities of Energy Applications

This article and video continue our series on the impact that exascale computing is expected to have on scientific research. 

The Energy Applications projects within the Application Development research focus area of the US Department of Energy’s Exascale Computing Project (ECP) are centered on the modeling and simulation of existing and future technologies for the efficient and responsible production of energy to meet the growing needs of the United States.

These applications generally require detailed modeling of complex facilities and multiple coupled physical processes to help overcome obstacles to the efficient and safe delivery of energy. With this as the ultimate aim, ECP’s Energy Applications research teams are exploring combustion, nuclear energy, fusion energy, wind energy, chemical energy, and particle accelerators.

The teams are currently studying and carefully characterizing the electronic structure of fairly simple atoms and very simple molecules. However, exascale computing could enable them to investigate molecules that consist of thousands of atoms. Greater understanding of electronic structure will pave the way for the manufacture and use of exotic materials that will go in very small, high-tensile-strength materials and buildings to make them more energy efficient.

In a recent interview concerning the anticipated impact of exascale computing, Tom Evans (of Oak Ridge National Laboratory), technical lead for ECP’s Energy Applications projects, described the quest for greater energy efficiency, the teams’ stepwise progression toward exascale computing, the speedup (20 to 40 times improvement) made possible by the Summit supercomputer, the unprecedented calculations expected at the exascale, the example of taking wind energy simulations much further, and the movement toward the use of more-general-purpose programming tools.

Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility Outreach contributed to the creation of this content.