Last week I talked about Mirai, Toyota’s new production fuel cell car. So today I want to talk about Mira, one of the world’s fastest supercomputers that is helping to create hydrogen fuel.
Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF) is using Mira, a 10-petaflop IBM Blue Gene/Q supercomputer to study artificial photosynthesis. The idea is to study how to use cheap, abundant and non-toxic materials in a photoelectrochemical (PEC) cell to split water into hydrogen and oxygen with the focus of producing massive amounts of H2 fuel.
According to Argonne, “To help accelerate research and development efforts, Giulia Galli, a professor at the University of Chicago’s Institute for Molecular Engineering, is leading a project at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF), a DOE Office of Science user facility, to advance the understanding of PEC water splitting.
“Galli is carrying out large-scale simulations on Mira, the ALCF’s 10-petaflops IBM Blue Gene/Q supercomputer, to model the physical and chemical processes occurring at the interface between solid photoelectrodes and electrolytes (water with dissolved salts, acids, and bases) at the microscopic scale. Her research team, in collaboration with Professor Francois Gygi at the University of California, Davis, is using a set of simulation programs as a computational spectroscopy tool to probe and predict vibrational and electronic properties at the solid-liquid interface.”
Mira is a heavyweight when it comes to supercomputers. In 2012, Mira was the 3rd fastest supercomputer in the world able to conduct 10 quadrillion floating-point operations per second. With this kind of raw computing power at their disposal ALCF is likely, at some point, to crack the code for producing cheap and abundant hydrogen for fueling cars.