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New Argonne engine simulation project investigating effects of uncertainties on engine function; targeting gasoline compression ignition

Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory are launching a new simulation project from the Virtual Engine Research Institute and Fuels Initiative (VERIFI) (earlier post) to investigate how multiple variables—uncertainties—interact simultaneously to impact the functioning of an engine.

A primary focus of the research will be enabling a new generation of gasoline compression engines that operate on the basis of low-temperature combustion. A gasoline compression engine combines many of the benefits of diesel and gasoline engines by using compression to ignite the fuel in the same manner used by diesels. Vehicle manufacturers have shown interest in pursuing low-temperature combustion as an innovative route to more efficient engines.

The variables in an engine are vast and include such things as temperature of cylinders and pistons, pressure inside the cylinder and flow rates of fuels. Tiny changes in any of these conditions can have profound effects on engine performance and emissions.

The work will be conducted on MIRA, which is currently the fifth-fastest supercomputer in the world and serves as the epicenter of the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF), a DOE Office of Science User Facility. (Earlier post, earlier post.) The project will tap 60 million computer core hours.

This has the potential to be pioneering work, because we haven’t seen anyone really trying to understand these boundary conditions, model parameters and uncertainties at this level of detail. You really need access to these types of computing resources to resolve these questions.

—Sibendu Som, principal investigator and principal mechanical engineer at Argonne’s Center for Transportation Research

In the past, slower computers allowed researchers to change one variable to see how it affected the rest. With a supercomputer, the Argonne team will be able to change all of the variables simultaneously and simulate the impact each has on all the others. The overall simulation effort will likely involve about a million calculations to resolve all the variables.

By resolving the uncertainties in engine simulations, the Argonne team will be providing vehicle manufacturers and engine designers with the tools to create more efficient engines faster and at reduced cost. The results from the study will be released publicly and will also be integrated into the CONVERGE engine simulation software created by Convergent Science, Inc.

The project is funded by DOE’s Office of Vehicle Technologies within the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy.

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