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Defense-scale supercomputing comes to alternative energy research
Date:4/27/2010

Albuquerque, N.M. A new supercomputer that more quickly models the most efficient ways to harness energy from the sun, wind and other renewable resources is now operating at Sandia National Laboratories.

Red Mesa, a 180-teraflop computing platform, is a collaboration between Sandia and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The two labs dedicated the supercomputer earlier this month, along with representatives from Sun/Oracle and Intel corporations and the Department of Energy's Sandia Site Office.

The work for the first time brings defense-scale computing to bear on alternative energy projects that otherwise could take months or even years to complete if researchers had to rely on more limited computing resources or on physical testing.

Joe Polito, Sandia vice president of Enterprise Transformation, called Red Mesa "a state-of-the-art computing platform to address pressing energy problems for the country, using the most energy-efficient supercomputer in the country."

Megan McCluer, DOE program manager for wind and hydropower technologies, said, "The Red Mesa platform will provide the speed and scale needed to perform large-scale computations targeted toward the continued improvements of clean energy technologies."

Red Mesa, when combined with its architecturally similar Sandia parent Red Sky, reaches a total speed of 500 teraflops, making it the 10th fastest computer in the world.

Already, Red Mesa has enabled NREL researchers to solve a corn-stalk-to-energy problem in just six weeks. The problem formerly would have taken six months.

"We need supercomputing to help us transform forestry and agricultural by-products into fuels and energy more rapidly and economically," said Steve Hammond, director of NREL's Computational Science Center. "And we need to learn how to minimize waste products like tar in the biomass gasification process. They're expensive to clean up and we shouldn't be cre
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Contact: Neal Singer
nsinger@sandia.gov
505-845-7078
DOE/Sandia National Laboratories
Source:Eurekalert  

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