OSU receives computer system for coal energy research


CORVALLIS, Ore. – The School of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at Oregon State University has received a $260,000 parallel computer system from the National Energy Technology Laboratory to conduct research on power generation and new coal energy technology.

The National Energy Technology Laboratory, with one research site in Albany, Ore., is part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratory system. In addition to research conducted onsite, the laboratory forms partnerships, cooperative research and development agreements, financial assistance, and contractual arrangements with universities and the private sector. Paul King and Cynthia Powell are two of the NETL researchers who have been instrumental in helping to develop the current collaboration.

These initiatives work toward viable solutions to national energy and environmental problems. The equipment being installed at OSU is a step toward establishing a long-term partnership with the university, officials said.

The computer cluster will be used in the Computational Flow Physics Laboratory to conduct simulations on multi-phase flow in oxy-fired combustion systems, to better understand how they can be integrated into advanced power generation. This technology allows coal to be burned in an oxygen-rich environment that produces a concentrated stream of carbon dioxide which can more easily be captured and sequestered, facilitating clean power generation.

This emerging field of simulation-based engineering is perhaps the only approach to obtain detailed data on complex flow field and combustion processes occurring inside the coal-fired systems, researchers say. The facility will also be shared with several other OSU researchers in science and engineering, and provide unique opportunities to conduct research on fundamental and applied problems in energy and power generation systems.