At California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the world’s most powerful computers are working on some of our most fundamental questions about the universe. The Sierra supercomputer, for example, is delving into the Big Bang and trying to figure out why elementary particles have mass.

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But Sierra is also solving problems that are closer to home. This supercomputer and more recently the world’s second most powerful computer called Titan at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee have been helping GE engineers to build a better jet engine.

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This image shows a snapshot from a numerical simulation of a generic aircraft engine injector. Top Image: This animation shows a numerical simulation of a jet fuel spray performed on Sierra in collaboration with Cornell. Researchers used between 500,000 to 1 million CPU hours of simulation time. (One CPU hour is equal to one hour used by one computer processor for simulation.)

Jet engines started out as complicated creatures ever since GE built the first one in the U.S. in 1941, and their design has gotten exponentially more intricate since.

Madhu Pai, an engineer in the Computational Combustion Lab at GE Global Research, is working on an elaborate part in the jet engine combustor called the fuel injector. “It delivers the lifeblood of a jet engine combustor,” he says.

Injectors atomize liquid jet fuel and spray it into the combustion chamber where it burns and generates energy for propulsion. “They are one of the most challenging parts to design and very expensive to produce,” Pai says. (The next-generation LEAP jet engine is the world’s first engine with 3D-printed injectors.)

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This fuel nozzle for the LEAP jet engine was 3D-printed from a special alloy.

Pai has teamed up with researchers from Arizona State and Cornell universities to use Titan and Sierra to study what exactly happens inside a fuel injector. The time and processing power the engineers have at their disposal is equal to running 10,000 computer processors simultaneously for over 9 months. “The supercomputer gives us a microscopic view of the inside of the injector,” Pai says. “We can study the processes occurring in regions hidden behind the metal or where the fuel spray is too dense. This allows us to better understand the physics behind the design.”

This is physics with practical implications. Pai says that small changes to fuel nozzle geometry could lead to significant changes in engine performance. “These high-fidelity computer simulations help us understand how air and fuel mix and burn, and eventually reduce the number of trials,” Pai says. “Ultimately, we want to build more powerful engines that consume less fuel and have lower emissions.”

Pai’s simulations could also yield new insights beyond jet engines and improve injectors used in locomotives, land-based gas turbines, and potentially find applications in healthcare. “This is just the beginning,” he says.

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A still from a supercomputer simulation of a jet fuel spray.

Henry Sapiecha

Take a look at other GE research involving supercomputers here.

INSTALLING AN ELEVATOR IN YOUR HOME CHEAPLY

One of the major problems with installing an elevator in a home is the amount of space required, not to mention the costly infrastructure and maintenance issues and the immense problems and cost associated with any retrofitting. Now a new type of elevator developed in Argentina looks set to revolutionise the residential lift market, making elevators affordable to everyone. The self-supporting vacuum elevator is constructed of aluminium and polycarbonate and takes just a few hours to install. Unlike previous elevators, the new lift is completely self-supporting, extremely light, has a footprint of just one square metr e and requires no excavating pit or hoistway, it can be fitted to almost any two or three storey building at a fraction of the cost of a normal elevator.

  • New vacuum elevator installs in a few hours at a budget price
  • New vacuum elevator installs in a few hours at a budget price
  • New vacuum elevator installs in a few hours at a budget price
  • New vacuum elevator installs in a few hours at a budget price

The Residential Pneumatic Vacuum Elevator may be a little challenging to look at the first time you see it – the hoistway is transparent and there are clearly no cables supporting the elevator cab, so it looks distinctly like some thing out of Star Trek, operating on some advanced levitation principle.

It’s actually very safe with over 300 lifts already installed and working perfectly and works entirely according to the simplest laws of physics – the difference in air pressure above and beneath the vacuum elevator cab safely raise and lower it on a cushion of air and though there’s not much room inside, the lift is rated to a capacity of 450 pounds.

Though it might look precarious, it is absolutely safe even in the case of an electricity power failure as the descending car automatically stops and locks on the next floor.

Some clever locking mechanisms mean that the lift always stops exactly at floor level and as air pressure rather than mechanical apparatus move the lift, the starting and stopping is very smooth.

What’s more, the unique installation and streamlined design will adapt to many non-conventional living spaces in a variety house styles.

The lifts can be seen at Daytona Elevator’s web site below

http://www.daytonaelevator.com/

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Einstein’s prediction finally

witnessed one century later

By Tannith Cattermole

19:26 September 1, 2010


Einstein said it couldn’t be done. But more than one hundred years later physicists at the University of Texas at Austin have finally found a way to witness “Brownian motion”; the instantaneous velocity of tiny particles as they vibrate. The “equipartition theorem” states that a particle’s kinetic energy, that due to motion, is determined only by its temperature and not its size or mass, and in 1907 Einstein proposed a test to observe the velocity of Brownian motion but gave up, saying the experiment would never be possible.

More than a century later Mark Raizen and his team have finally proved this long-anticipated prediction by means of “optical tweezers”: a single laser beam was fired at a 5?m micrometer bead from below, suspending the bead in an “optical trap” mid-air using the force from the laser and the gravitational force on the bead. A plate-like transducer shook the beads to be tweezed and measured them as they were suspended, and the Brownian motion of the trapped bead was studied with ultra-high resolution.

Having noted that in this case glass beads were 3 micrometers across, Raizen and his team have proved that equipartition theorem is in fact true for Brownian particles. This is the first time in history that the equipartition theorem has been tested for Brownian particles, which forms one of the basic principles of statistical mechanics. They now intend to go further by moving the particles closer to a quantum state for observation. They also expect this to stimulate further research into cooling glass beads to a state where they could be used as oscillators or sensors.

As with much of quantum science, they don’t expect the experiment to yield more answers than questions, however: “We’ve now observed the instantaneous velocity of a Brownian particle,” says Raizen. “In some sense, we’re closing a door on this problem in physics. But we are actually opening a much larger door for future tests of the equipartition theorem at the quantum level.”

Mark Raizen is professor of physics at The University of Texas at Austin, and the Sid W. Richardson Foundation Regents Chair. His co-authors are Tongcang Li, Simon Kheifets and David Medellin of the Center for Nonlinear Dynamics and theDepartment of Physics at The University of Texas at Austin. Their paper is published in Science.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha