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DOE HPC4Mfg program funds 13 projects to advance US manufacturing; welding, Li-S batteries among projects

A US Department of Energy (DOE) program designed to spur the use of high performance supercomputers to advance US manufacturing has funded 13 new industry projects for a total of $3.8 million. Among the projects selected are one by GM and EPRI of California to improve welding techniques for automobile manufacturing and power plant builds in partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

Another one of the 13 projects is led by Sepion Technologies, which will partner with LBNL to make new membranes to increase the lifetime of Li-S batteries for hybrid airplanes.

The High Performance Computing for Manufacturing (HPC4Mfg) Program creates an ecosystem that allows experts at DOE’s national laboratories to work directly with manufacturing industry members to teach them how to adopt or advance their use of high performance computing (HPC) to address manufacturing challenges with a goal of increasing energy efficiency, reducing environmental impacts and advancing clean energy technologies.

The partnerships use world-class supercomputers and scientific expertise from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), which leads the program, and partner laboratories Lawrence Berkeley and Oak Ridge national laboratories (LBNL and ORNL), which in turn team up with US manufacturers.

GM and EPRI. GM and EPRI, representing two major US manufacturing industry sectors (automotive and nuclear energy) and both having welding research & development capabilities, will work with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) for the purpose of advancing HPC weld modeling tools for broad industrial applications.

This potential will be demonstrated with two representative welded structural components:

  • the prediction of welding-induced dimensional changes and stresses during laser welding assembly of a complex roof panel made of high-strength lightweighting materials; and

  • the prediction of weld residual stresses in the dissimilar welds of nuclear piping systems.

The goal is to reduce the computational time of the two above examples from days or months to several hours while providing adequate solution accuracy so that the HPC weld modeling tools could effectively optimize welding technology in order to minimize dimensional distortion and proactively mitigate the detrimental impact of weld-induced residual stresses.

Sepion. Efforts to commercialize light-weight, energy-dense lithium-sulfur secondary batteries (2510 Wh kg–1) have been stalled by ongoing problems with the battery’s membrane, which limits cycle-life.

Sepion’s polymer membrane technology provides a counterpoint, yielding long-lasting lithium-sulfur cells. Advancing to 10 Ah battery prototypes, Sepion faces challenges in membrane manufacturing related to polymer processing and the molecular basis for membrane performance and durability.

High-performance computing offers critical new insight into these phenomena, which in turn will accelerate the product’s entry into the market. Sepion envisions that successes could catalyze a transformation in aviation, in which fuel-burning aircraft are replaced with hybrid-electric planes featuring 30–50% reductions in fuel costs and emissions.

Other awards include:

  • Shiloh Industries of Ohio will partner with ORNL to study phase change cooling of tooling to speed up casting processes in a project titled “Development of a Transformational Micro-Cooling Technology for High-Pressure Die Casting using High-Performance Computing.”

  • Rolls-Royce Corporation of Indiana will partner with ORNL to improve silicon carbide composites in a project titled “Level-set Modeling Simulations of Chemical Vapor Infiltration for Ceramic Matrix Composites Manufacturing.”

  • ORNL will partner with Agenda 2020 Technology Alliance, a consortium focused on the paper industry to design better catalysts for lignin breakdown in a project titled “Catalytic Pulping of Wood.”

  • LLNL will partner with GE Global Research Center in New York to study how to mitigate defects caused by direct metal laser melting in a project titled “Minimization of Spatter during Direct Metal Laser Melting (DMLM) Additive Manufacturing Process using ALE3D Coupled with Experiments."

  • PPG of Pennsylvania will partner with LBNL to decrease the time needed to paint automobiles in a project titled “Modeling Paint Behavior During Rotary Bell Atomization.”

  • Actasys, Incorporated of New York, will partner with ORNL to decrease the fuel consumption of trucks by actively modifying the flow around the trucks in a project titled “High Performance Computational Modeling of Synthetic Jet Actuators for Increased Freight Efficiency in the Transportation Industry.”

  • Carbon, Incorporated of California will partner with LBNL to increase the speed of polymer additively manufactured components in a project titled “Multi-physics Modeling of Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP) for Additive Manufacturing.”

  • The American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute will partner with LBNL to develop lower energy mechanisms of chemical separation using membranes in a project titled “Accelerating Industrial Application of Energy-Efficient Alternative Separations.”

  • The Alzeta Corporation of California will partner with LBNL to destroy effluents from semiconductor processing that could potentially harm the ozone layer in a project titled “Improving Gas Reactor Design With Complex Non-Standard Reaction Mechanisms in a Reactive Flow Model.”

  • Applied Materials, Incorporated will partner with LLNL to enable the manufacture of higher quality, more efficient LEDs for lighting in a project titled “Modeling High Impulse Magnetron Sputtering (HiPIMS) plasma sources for reactive Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) processes used in fabrication of high efficiency LEDs.”

  • Harper International Corp. of New York will partner with ORNL to reduce the cost of carbon fibers in a project titled “Development and Validation of Simulation Capability for the High Capacity Production of Carbon Fiber.”

The program has previously funded 16 projects ranging from improving turbine blades for aircraft engines to reducing heat loss in electronics to improving fiberglass production. Partners range from small to large companies, industry consortiums and institutes.

Although the program is 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.


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