Skip to main content

Impacts

Read about the impacts of NREL's innovations in computational science.

Data Center Dynamics Eco-Sustainability Award

2018

NREL's high-performance computing data center won the prestigious 2018 Data Center Dynamics Data Center Eco-Sustainability Award, bolstering the lab's status as a world leader in data center efficiency and sustainability. Referred to as the Oscars of the data center industry, the annual DCD Global Awards recognize the industry's top data center projects and people. NREL was honored for its showcase facility for data center sustainability that demonstrates best practices in energy efficiency, waste heat capture, and use of component-level warm-water liquid cooling.

Read more

Visualization at NREL: Toward Exascale Wind Simulation

2018

Challenge

A key challenge to wide-scale deployment of wind energy in the utility grid without subsidies is predicting and minimizing plant-level energy losses—which are currently estimated to be 20% in relatively flat areas, and much higher in regions of complex terrain. Current HPC simulation tools and methods for modeling wind plant performance fall far short due to insufficient model fidelity and inadequate treatment of key phenomena, combined with a lack of computational power necessary to address the wide range of relevant length scales associated with wind plants.

Achievement

In the Exascale Predictive Wind Plant Flow Physics Modeling project, also referred to as ExaWind, NREL is leading the development of an exascale modeling and simulation capability (coupled fluid and structural mechanics) to understand the fundamental multiphysics, multiscale flow phenomena in large wind plants, including complex terrain. NREL and partners have created a new blade-resolved model of a large modern wind turbine, enabling scientists and engineers to begin understanding the complex flow physics in multi-turbine wind farms that will take advantage of future exascale modeling and simulation capability.

Impact

ExaWind will result in advancements in the development of a next-generation wind farm simulation capability and the understanding of how the capability can answer important science questions challenging the wind energy community. It will also ensure new wind farm simulation code scales well on today’s petascale systems and is well positioned to utilize first-generation U.S. exascale systems.

Read more

Award-Winning Team Revolutionizes Data Center Water Savings with Thermosyphon System

2018

Challenge

High-performance computing systems like Eagle produce a lot of heat. NREL’s HPC data center cooling system was designed to be super effective in managing that heat—using evaporative towers that are more efficient and less expensive than energy-demanding chillers. However, the towers consumed approximately 2.5 million gallons of water annually to support cooling of the IT load—approaching an hourly average of 1 megawatt. NREL recognized the need to make the data center not just energy efficient, but water efficient, too. 

Achievement

NREL’s David Sickinger, Roy Fraley, and Kevin Regimbal, along with partners from Johnson Controls and Sandia National Laboratories, installed the thermosyphon hybrid cooling system on the roof of the Energy Systems Integration Facility. In combination with the existing evaporative towers, this advanced dry cooler that uses refrigerant in a passive cycle to dissipate heat—called a thermosyphon—forms an extremely water- and cost-efficient hybrid cooling system.

Impact

The system saved 1.16 million gallons of water in its first year of operation, cutting the data center’s onsite water usage in half while continuing to operate at optimal energy efficiency. The NREL team received 2018 U.S. Department of Energy Federal Energy and Water Management Awards for this outstanding achievement in energy and water efficiency and conservation.

Read more

Building The World's Largest Experimental Materials Database

2018

Challenge

In working on new thin-film materials for energy applications, scientists synthesize many samples of data, but only a fraction of what they learn along the way is ever published.

Achievement

NREL data scientists and architects consolidated these data—more than 140,000 sample entries—into one extensive experimental materials database, organizing a decade’s worth of research into the largest such database in the world.

Impact

This database can significantly accelerate research related to or involving thin-film materials, providing tremendous opportunity for data-driven research and knowledge discovery. Collaborations with commercial partners (e.g., Citrine, Apple, and Google) and other research organizations (e.g., NIST, SLAC, Argonne, and Colorado School of Mines) promise to continue to expand the breadth and depth of this key materials data resource.

Read more