ALCF to demonstrate engine modeling capabilities at 2016 VERIFI workshop

Laura Wolf

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The Virtual Engine Research Institute and Fuels Initiative (VERIFI), an Argonne National Laboratory-led program to improve internal combustion engine performance though advanced simulation and experimentation, is holding a two-day workshop this week to showcase current work and to attract new industry partners.

The first portion of the workshop will provide an overview of the VERIFI program and its ecosystem. In the second half of the workshop, attendees will hear from various speakers, including domain experts and current VERIFI partners, who will discuss their work and current methodologies.

The Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF), a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility and a key partner in the VERIFI effort, will open its doors to attendees for tours and a hands-on demonstration of how supercomputing can be used to quickly run a series of practical engine simulations.

In the activity, participants will submit test cases on 8,000 cores of ALCF’s 10-petaflops supercomputer, Mira, and run hundreds of production-type simulations using Convergent Science’s CONVERGE, a commercial computational fluid dynamics software tool. Last year, VERIFI team researchers, ALCF staff, and Convergent Science optimized the CONVERGE code for high-performance computing (HPC) systems using an ALCF Director’s Discretionary award.

ALCF staff member Marta Garcia Martinez planned the hands-on exercise with VERIFI project lead Sibendu Som, mechanical engineer Janardhan Kodavasal, and postdoctoral researcher Muhsin Ameen, all from Argonne’s Center for Transportation Research, and will work with the participants during the half-day session, with assistance from ALCF staff member Kevin Harms.

The test case will demonstrate the capability of using HPC to predict an important phenomenon in spark ignition engines called cycle-to-cycle variability (CCV). CCV refers to the variability in the combustion process from one cycle to the next during an engine’s operation. Excess CCV can cause unstable operation that leads to engine unreliability. Numerical prediction of CCV is extremely expensive, as hundreds of cycles need to be simulated one after the other, which can easily take several months or more of computational time on a traditional computing cluster. This new approach to computing the CCV runs hundreds of cycles in parallel, which allows researchers to arrive at predictions more quickly.

In addition to the Mira hands-on activity, ALCF staff and other VERIFI team leaders will meet with industry representatives to provide guidance on how VERIFI can help them develop next-generation engines and fuels. “The idea is to encourage new work from both existing and new collaborators,” said David Martin, ALCF’s industry outreach manager. “It’s important to emphasize that this unique combination of resources and expertise is only available at one place in the world—and that place is Argonne.”

VERIFI brings together Argonne expertise, an engine laboratory, and the capabilities of two of Argonne’s premier DOE office of Science User Facilities—the ALCF and the Advanced Photon Source—to optimize engines and engine components using high-performance computing rather than prototyping. VERIFI researchers can rapidly incorporate new chemical models and new knowledge about fuel spray, combustion, and emissions into new engine models, and then simulate those models on petascale computing resources.

The VERIFI team has developed new simulation capabilities that include simulation code and workflows that give researchers the ability to virtually test and evaluate thousands of designs simultaneously. Argonne’s Center for Transportation Research facilities can then validate simulation results against precise measurements and under a range of operating conditions.

Attendees will also tour the engine testing facilities, which generate high-quality data for validation of VERIFI simulations; the Advanced Photon Source, where VERIFI researchers can probe fuel injection and spray phenomena to aid in model developments; and the ALCF, where staff computational scientists, like Garcia Martinez, help VERIFI teams scale up engine calculations and visualization experts, like Joe Insley, help them analyze and interpret their simulation data.

The VERIFI workshop, “The Role of Simulations and High-Performance Computing in Engines and Fuel Co-Optimization” takes place June 22-23, at Argonne. The VERIFI program is funded by DOE’s Office of Vehicle Technologies within the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. More at: