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GE Global Research, ASU and Cornell to partner with Lawrence Livermore National Lab on development of next-generation fuel injectors
9 April 2012
|Computer simulation of liquid spray from a test fuel injector. Click to enlarge.|
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has selected GE Global Research to participate in an incubator program that will use high-performance computing (HPC) in an effort to accelerate development of next-generation liquid fuel injectors. Global Research will collaborate with Arizona State University (ASU) and Cornell University on the project “Improving Models of Spray Breakup in Liquid Fuels Combustion”.
The scientists hope to gain a better understanding of critical unsteady spray phenomena observed in fuel injectors used in today’s liquid-fueled engines. These unsteady spray phenomena are sometimes inaccessible to experimental measurements. Computer simulations can provide much needed insight into the origin of the unsteadiness, but doing this requires supercomputers to accurately capture the underlying physics.
Within the project, GE mechanical engineer Madhu Pai, from the Computational Combustion Lab (ATMS) will have six months of dedicated access to a portion of the LLNL Sierra supercomputer to study the physics behind the working of the fuel injector to optimize its design.
Currently fuel injectors are designed after lengthy optimization trials, partly because today’s fuel injectors have complex geometries that challenge conventional wisdom on how these injectors work. High-fidelity computer simulations can significantly reduce the number of trials and can provide insight into why a fuel injector behaves the way it does.
Using the supercomputer, we will apply a methodology called Large Eddy Simulation (LES) to model the fuel injector. The supercomputer will give us a 360 degree view of the inside of the injector, so that we can better understand the physics behind the design. Having a better understanding of how the fuel/air mixture combusts will help us ultimately build more powerful engines that consume less fuel and have lower emissions. HPC will ultimately help in reducing development time and cost of the fuel injector.—Madhu Pai
Aircraft fuel injectors are being studied in this trial, but successful testing of this computer simulation methodology could yield new insights that benefit other GE products, including the fuel injectors used in locomotives and land-based gas turbines. The methodology can potentially be applied to study nebulizers for aerosol delivery.
Access to LLNL’s supercomputing pilot program, known as “hpc4energy”, was highly sought after. More than 30 companies applied; GE Global Research was one of six selected. The goal of the program is to facilitate more R&D engagement between the National Labs and energy companies to help increase America’s economic competitiveness.
The supercomputing project will begin in April at the LLNL’s facility in California.
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