High performance computing helps reduce noise pollution

High performance computing helps reduce noise pollution
December 18, 2014 Sarah Nisbet

Con Doolan

Associate Professor Con Doolan

Making the world a quieter place is the goal of researchers studying aeroacoustics at the University of Adelaide.

Aeroacoustics studies noise generation created by objects that move in air or water – primarily the noise of large machines such as wind turbines, submarines and aircraft.

“Understanding how noise is generated enables us to determine how to change the design of a machine to reduce its noise output without affecting its efficiency,” said Associate Professor Con Doolan from the School of Mechanical Engineering.

High performance computers, which A/Prof Doolan and his team access from eResearch SA, are essential to carrying out the numerical calculations required to understand this area of research.

“To understand noise generation we need to solve the fluid or air flow motion over an object – for example a wing, fin or rotating blade,” he said.

“Supercomputers allow us to solve these complicated calculations on a large scale so we can apply our theories to real world problems.

“The best example of this is an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project we’ve been doing with the Australian Submarine Corporation to understand submarine hydrofoil noise.

“With the use of high performance computing we’ve been able to create a novel submarine hydrofoil noise prediction model which will assist submarine engineers design new machines with reduced hydrofoil noise.”

To create the noise prediction model, A/Prof Doolan and his team used eResearch SA’s Tizard high performance computing system to generate computer data flow on a complicated three-dimensional shape.

They have also used Tizard for a recent ARC Discovery Project with the aim of investigating the origin of wind turbine noise.

“We will use Tizard to compute the flow over rotating wind turbine blades to identify how noise is created,” he said.

“This new knowledge will give industry and government better tools to design quieter wind farms and develop improved policies while also protecting the amenity of communities who live near them.”

The Tizard machine is South Australia’s most powerful high performance computing system available to researchers. The compute servers making up Tizard provide an aggregate total of over 40 teraflops of compute power, making it six times more powerful than any previous eResearch SA supercomputer.

“Supercomputers are critical to our work,” Doolan said.

“So much so that our school now has priority access to 900 computer processing units on Tizard. All we have to do is login from a desktop to gain access.”

A/Prof Doolan has worked closely with eResearch SA since commencing the aeroacoustics program in 2005 after completing a Post-Doc in helicopter aerodynamics in Glasgow.

“On my return to Australia I realised that few of the universities here offered aeroacoustics so I applied for grants and started a new aeroacoustics program in Australia that has grown into Australia’s largest,” he said.

“There was a strong case for a program to be based in South Australia due to the state’s interest in submarines and wind turbines.

“I have accessed eResearch SA’s high performance computing facilities from day one, using Hydra, Corvus and now Tizard

“Having an organisation like eResearch SA here in Adelaide is fantastic.

“It would be impossible to do the type of research that we’re doing without them – it is a major factor in achieving our research outcomes.”

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