Developing cleaner and more efficient engines to drive our machines is one of the greatest future challenges for humankind.
As the environmental and health impacts associated with the use of everyday machines such as cars and aeroplanes become more widely understood, solutions to address the issues are critical.
They’re problems that Professor John Abraham from the University of Adelaide is tackling head-on with the help of supercomputers at eResearch SA.
“The research I do is essentially to understand the fundamental physical and chemical processes that take place when fuel and air mix and burn in car engines, gas turbines and other types of combustors and reactors,” Professor Abraham said.
“I’m looking at how the breakdown process of the liquid fuel occurs and why different species are produced during subsequent combustion.
“In addition to producing energy to drive a machine, the processes produce pollutants, such as nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide and particulate matter, which have a significant impact on both the environment and human health.
“Producing cleaner and more efficient engines is the goal of my research, which could be used by car-makers, gas turbine companies and resource industries to create products with lower environmental impact.”
To solve the puzzle, Professor Abraham must decipher very complex equations that require the power of supercomputers, which he has been able to source through eResearch SA.
“These equations have to be solved over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales, and this is computationally very challenging,” he said.
“We’re talking about processes that go from nano-seconds to seconds, so the computational power required to solve these equations is enormous.
“Using eResearch SA’s Tizard computer allows me to run hundreds of simultaneous processes which are all communicating with each other to solve a problem. You can think of it as having hundreds of horses pulling one carriage.”
Professor Abraham has been working with eResearch SA for almost two years and is delighted with the partnership.
“The service they’ve provided has been excellent,” he said.
“There have been very few breakdowns or down days and if support is needed, the response is very prompt. I’m very pleased with the whole eResearch SA team.”