Albany, Ore. — Two researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) have been awarded time on a high-performance supercomputer to conduct projects on new materials associated with electrical power generation.
The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), which is supported by DOE’s Office of Science, awarded the computer time to Dr. Michael Gao, a materials scientist, and Dr. De Nyago Tafen, a senior research scientist, both in NETL’s Office of Research and Development.
NERSC, which is operated by DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), annually awards time on its Cray-XT supercomputer to researchers who work at DOE laboratories, universities, industrial labs, and other federal agencies in support of DOE’s missions and scientific goals. To receive the computer awards, scientists must submit proposals outlining their research areas.
At NETL, Drs. Gao and Tafen have been using multiscale computer design and simulations to help accelerate the design of new materials. Dr. Gao, whose project is titled “Thermodynamic and Elastic Properties of Cr-, Mo-, and Nb-based Alloys,” plans to use the Cray computer to develop high-temperature alloys based on the metals chromium, molybdenum, and niobium. He plans to use computer-generated calculations to predict the structural, electronic, thermodynamic, and elastic properties of alloys based on these metals. Dr. Gao’s research results can directly contribute to reducing harmful environmental emissions from and efficiency improvements in existing coal-fired power plants.
Dr. Tafen’s project, titled “Design of Multicomponent Aloys Based on PdCu for Hydrogen Separation Membranes,” will focus on developing hydrogen membrane alloys based on a palladium-copper system that can be used to convert hydrogen to electrical energy by using fuel cells and turbines. His specific challenge is to design metallic alloys for hydrogen separation membranes that will work at high temperatures in a synthetic gas environment. The success of these new materials can ultimately help to reduce the nation’s dependence on oil, while reducing the emission of greenhouse gases to the environment.
Drs. Gao and Tafen will conduct their supercomputer-related research over an 18-month award period at NERSC’s facility located at LBNL in Berkeley, Calif. NERSC’s facility annually serves about 3,000 scientists throughout the United States.