GE mechanical engineer Madhu Pai, from the Computational Combustion Lab (ATMS) will have six months of dedicated access to a portion of the Sierra supercomputer - one of the most powerful in the world - to study the physics behind the working of the fuel injector to optimize its design. Madhu Pai discussed the importance of supercomputing in supporting these studies.
"Currently fuel injectors are designed after lengthy optimization trials, partly because today's fuel injectors have complex geometries that challenge conventional wisdom on how these injectors work. High-fidelity computer simulations can significantly reduce the number of trials and can provide insight into why a fuel injector behaves the way it does", stated Madhu Pai.
Scientists hope to gain a better understanding of critical unsteady spray phenomena observed in fuel injectors used in today's liquid-fueled engines. These unsteady spray phenomena are sometimes inaccessible to experimental measurements. Computer simulations can provide much needed insight into the origin of the unsteadiness, but doing this requires very powerful supercomputers to accurately capture the underlying physics.
"Using the supercomputer, we will apply a methodology called Large Eddy Simulation (LES) to model the fuel injector. The supercomputer will give us a 360 degree view of the inside of the injector, so that we can better understand the physics behind the design", stated Madhu Pai. "Having a better understanding of how the fuel/air mixture combusts will help us ultimately build more powerful engines that consume less fuel and have lower emissions. HPC will ultimately help in reducing development time and cost of the fuel injector."
Aircraft fuel injectors are being studied in this trial, but successful testing of this computer simulation methodology could yield new insights that benefit other GE products, including the fuel injectors used in locomotives and land-based gas turbines. The methodology can potentially be applied to study nebulizers for aerosol delivery.
Access to LLNL's supercomputing pilot programme, known as "hpc4energy", was highly sought after. More than 30 companies applied; GE Global Research was one of six selected. The goal of the programme is to facilitate more R&D engagement between the National Labs and energy companies to help increase America's economic competitiveness.
The supercomputing project will begin in April at the LLNL's facility in California. Details on the LLNL incubator programme are available at http://hpc4energy.org/incubator/ .