Industrial scene

National lab’s supercomputers help companies improve energy efficiency

The federal government is offering opportunities and funding for private companies to partner with national laboratories for research and development. The U.S. Department of Energy is providing $600,000 for two companies to work with scientists at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois on advanced manufacturing and carbon capture tech projects that improve efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Both projects rely on calculations and modeling from Argonne’s high-performance supercomputers. Few facilities in the U.S. have these tools and allow companies to use them to improve operations. Argonne says its computing technologies are 100 times more powerful than those typically used by corporations.

Carbon capture tech modeling

Scientists will help Solar Turbines Incorporated model efficient, cost-effective carbon capture technologies for industrial gas turbines that are used to generate power, propel watercraft, and produce oil and gas.

The technology recirculates some exhaust back into the engine to increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the final exhaust stream. This makes carbon capture and sequestration more efficient and lowers the cost.

But if too much exhaust is reused, the turbine flame can falter or go out. The research team is working to stabilize the gas turbine’s flame while maximizing the system’s carbon capture potential.

Optimizing manufacturing equipment

For the other project, Argonne scientists will help Michigan-based Dow Chemical Company optimize its mixing equipment’s energy efficiency. 

The team will use computer modeling and machine learning tools to examine the flow of materials inside gas-liquid turbulent jet mixers, machines commonly used for mixing industrial fluids. They’ll use the gathered data to optimize the machine’s internal design to maximize performance while cutting energy use. 

This project has the potential to produce significant energy and cost savings for Dow. Optimized turbulent jet mixers use up to three times less energy than other mixing equipment and can save millions of dollars in reduced downtime.

Opportunity knocks

Argonne says its supercomputers can reduce product development and testing time by months or even years, which accelerates new technologies’ time to market. The DOE welcomes outreach from companies that want to partner with Argonne or other national laboratories on these kinds of R&D projects. Funding opportunities are available throughout the year.