UNSW researcher scores Australia’s largest ever compute grant

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UNSW researcher scores Australia’s largest ever compute grant

Modelling low-emission combustion for better engines.

A researcher from UNSW Engineering has received a grant for 50 million units of compute time on the country’s most powerful supercomputer, representing the largest compute grant in Australian history.

Professor Evatt Hawkes’ project will use the compute time - roughly equivalent to 5,550 years of work on a single computer - to investigate the minute details of combustion in a new design of a gas turbine combustor.

Hawkes’ work on the National Computational Infrastructure’s Gadi supercomputer is expected to produce some of the highest resolution simulations of combustion ever created.

“This grant will enable us to deliver significant new insights into combustion processes in axially staged gas turbine combustion systems,” Hawkes said.

“These turbines are incredibly efficient and offer in comparison to previous systems much greater operational flexibility, including flexibility to burn fuels having high reactivities such as hydrogen.”

Information resulting from the simulations will be used to guide the design of new low-emissions systems that offer a promising and efficient pathway for renewable fuels like hydrogen to become more widely adopted.

Hawkes said that level of detail in the simulations will provide “unprecedented” insights into exactly what happens inside the combustor as it’s currently impossible to take exact measurements from inside the combustion chambers of the complex interactions between combustion and turbulence that occur in these systems.

During direct numerical simulations conducted by Hawkes’ team, the small scales need to be directly resolved, which leads to significant computational effort.

Supercomputing is required since combustion in these systems occurs in highly turbulent fluids, with length and timescales spanning an enormous dynamic range.

Hawkes was one of four researchers to share in the Australasian Leadership Computing Grants who received a total of almost 180 million units of compute time on Gadi - equivalent to a single computer performing constant calculations for about 20,000 years.

NCI Director Sean Smith said the grants were designed to identify meritorious research projects with demonstrated ability to use high performance computing systems effectively at scale.

“These grants will supercharge Australian research with unprecedented access to the nation’s fastest supercomputer,” he said.

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