Argonne and Convergent Science join forces for better engines

Joseph E. Harmon

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The dynamics of an engine’s spark ignition are complex and often take months for scientists to simulate accurately. Now scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory can study these dynamics much more quickly with the help of a new software model. Researchers at Argonne are incorporating this new model into a computational fluid dynamics software package used by industry to simulate the highly complex processes in internal combustion engines.

Automotive engineers seek to predict and control the cycle-to-cycle variability within their engines, in the hopes of designing new engines that could offer substantial increases in fuel economy and meet future emissions standards.

One of the model’s developers, Argonne mechanical engineer Muhsin Ameen, explained that the new model would dramatically shrink the computational time required for advanced engine simulations. ​“Simulations need to be performed for hundreds of consecutive engine cycles, which can easily take 2-3 months of computing time. This new model will reduce that time to 10 days,” he said.

Ameen’s model piqued the interest of Convergent Science, a company specializing in computational fluid dynamics. After some discussion, Argonne and Convergent Science agreed to begin the process for integrating Ameen’s new model into CONVERGE, Convergent Science’s flagship software product.

Funding for a two-year collaborative project to integrate the Argonne model into CONVERGE came through a grant from the DOE’s Small Business Vouchers program, awarded in 2016. This program, which is winding down, facilitated access to the DOE national laboratories for American small businesses to overcome critical technology challenges they face. In performance of this project, Convergent Science integrated into CONVERGE the software model developed at Argonne. Testing of the software integration was successfully completed last June.

“This collaboration has led to the development of a unique capability that has the potential to immensely benefit engine original equipment manufacturers by significantly accelerating the turnaround time in engine design,” said Eric Pomraning, Convergent Science vice president.

In recognition of the success of the integration, Ameen, Sibendu Som (Argonne Multi-Physics Computation section manager) and Gregory Halder (Argonne business development executive) recently received an Excellence in Technology Transfer Award from the Midwest Region of the Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC). As further evidence of the high quality of the interactions between the partners, this project has also resulted in two publications co-authored by Argonne and Convergent Science researchers on this topic.

“This is a real success story of technology transfer and collaboration between a national lab and an industrial firm,” Som said. ​“Argonne is constantly on the lookout for such partnerships that tap its expertise and facilities. This partnership nets benefits ultimately for the consumers, speeding technology to market that is cleaner and more fuel efficient, for a societal win.”

Som and his team used supercomputers at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility, a DOE Office of Science User Facility, and Argonne’s Laboratory Computing Resource Center. The research was funded by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy through its Vehicle Technologies Office.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit the Office of Science website.