Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Saturday, December 3, 2022

DoE Expands HPC Manufacturing Effort 

The Energy Department's Advanced Manufacturing Office is expanding industry access to its network of national laboratories to leverage supercomputing capabilities that can be used to model, simulate and analyze industrial processes and products.

DoE's High Performance Computing for Manufacturing (HPC4Mfg) recently announced another series of funded projects designed to expand the program's scope to other industrial sectors. The 13 new projects will receive up to $300,000 each to speed product development and commercialize new manufacturing capabilities with an emphasis on energy efficiency and clean energy.

Separately, the agency last week announced funding totaling up to $3 million for it next round of manufacturing projects. Between eight and ten projects would be funded to cover access to U.S. supercomputers. Applications are due Oct. 14. The solicitation is here.

HPC4Mfg was launched in March 2015 by the Energy Department's Advanced Manufacturing Office to promote collaboration between the national laboratories and U.S. manufacturers. The partnership seeks to develop and scale methods for energy efficient manufacturing or enable the production of clean energy technologies.

Lawrence Livermore Laboratory is spearheading the initiative. Four "seeding" projects were followed by 10 phase one projects announced earlier this year. So far, the effort is funding 29 projects involving 22 industry partners as the agency seeks to leverage supercomputing technology to model and simulate manufacturing processes.

Along with accelerating product innovation, project participants will be using supercomputers at Lawrence Berkeley and Oak Ridge national laboratories to lower energy costs and reduce waste streams from processes like chip manufacturing along with shortening testing cycles and speeding technology commercialization, program officials said.

The manufacturing effort also advances the Obama administration's National Strategic Computing Initiative launched in July 2015 aimed at boosting industrial adoption of high-performance computing tools.

Previous HPC4Mfg projects have focused on energy-intensive manufacturing sectors such as chip making. The latest Energy Department technology review called for shifting the focus to leveraging supercomputing technology "as a platform of enabling information technology for innovation and manufacturing."

"Across the board we are seeing the opportunity for productivity improvements when our most advanced capabilities are applied to challenges of energy in manufacturing," noted Mark Johnson, director of Advanced Manufacturing Office.

Manufacturing projects funded so far include LED lighting and materials such as carbon fibers. Lawrence Livermore researchers are working Applied Materials Inc., (NASDAQ:AMAT) a key supplier of chip making equipment, to manufacturer more efficient light-emitting diodes for lighting. One goal is to stimulate the LED market by reducing the manufacturing cost of relatively pricey LED bulbs.

Meanwhile, a New York manufacturer is working with Oak Ridge National Laboratory to reduce the cost of producing carbon fibers through high-capacity manufacturing processes. The fibers are widely used in the automotive and aerospace sectors along with energy applications such as wind turbine blades.

A full list of HPC4Mfg projects is here.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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