The Super Computing Science Consortium

Pennsylvania-West Virginia partners in
development of clean power technologies

Formed in 1999 and supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Super Computing Science Consortium is a regional partnership of research and educational institutions in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. (SC)2 provides intellectual leadership and advanced computing and communications resources to solve problems in energy and the environment and to stimulate regional high-technology development and education.

PHOTO: : Lynn Layman and Bob Romanowsky

(SC)2 co-chairs Bob Romanosky, NETL (left) and Lynn Layman, PSC

Through (SC)2, Evergreene Technology Park in Greene County provides a resource that supports and encourages companies to collaborate with local universities in southwest Pennsylvania and West Virginia and to have access to PSC.

Since the spring of 2000, a high-speed network — the first fiber-optic service to Morgantown, West Virginia — has linked the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) campuses in Morgantown and Pittsburgh with PSC, facilitating NETL collaborations. Researchers at NETL and WVU have actively used this link to tap PSC computational resources.

PSC Research Collaboration

PSC has extended a research collaboration with NETL, begun during 2010, through the Regional University Alliance, which combines NETL’s fossil-energy expertise with research at regional universities, including Carnegie Mellon. Through the end of 2010, PSC’s work with NETL staff included implementation of VisIt, a software package for scalable visual analysis, on NETL’s computing cluster and graphics accelerators. This work makes it possible for NETL researchers to use VisIt interactively with large data produced by MFIX (Multiphase Flow with Interphase Exchanges), NETL’s award-winning software for simulating coal gasification and other clean-coal technologies.

“This work saves time for NETL engineers,” says Nick Nystrom, PSC director of strategic applications, who coordinated the collaborative effort, “improves their analytical capabilities, and allows them to communicate results more effectively.” The extended collaboration focuses on accelerating the processing speed of MFIX, along with analysis and visualization, through parallelizing the input/output.

Hydrogen Sensitive Nanoribbons of Graphene

NETL scientist Dan Sorescu used Blacklight, PSC’s newest system, to make progress on several projects involving quantum computations and simulations of nano-scale processes. One of these projects concerned potential applications of graphene, a one-atom thick layered form of carbon, as an electronic chemical sensor. Sorescu’s calculations, combined with experimental work by Alexander Star’s group at the University of Pittsburgh, suggest the feasibility of a technique to form interconnected graphene “nanoribbons” that can hold platinum nanoparticles so that the resulting structure exhibits a pronounced, selective electronic response toward hydrogen. The graphic (above) shows the variation of charge-density distribution (yellow & blue surfaces) at the graphene interface upon adsorption of hydrogen atoms (white) onto a cluster of 18 platinum atoms (green) located at the edge of a graphene nanoribbon functionalized with oxygen atoms (red).

PSC & (SC)2: Research for Clean Energy

Since the 1999 founding of (SC)2, more than 50 (SC)2researchers have used PSC systems for a range of clean-energy related projects, including designs for advanced power turbines, fluidized-bed combustion, and a reactor to produce power from gasified coal. This work has used more than six million hours of computing time.