On March 7, the High Performance Computing for Manufacturing Program (HPC4Mfg) announced the recipients of $1.2 million in federal funding for four public/private projects aimed at solving key manufacturing challenges in steelmaking and aluminum production through supercomputing.

The Summer 2018 HPC4Mfg call for proposals, the sixth overall for the program, had a special focus — applying the unparalleled high-performance computing capabilities of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) national laboratories to steelmaking and aluminum production processes. Under the program, each selected industry partner will have access to the national labs’ HPC machines and expertise to help these industries become more competitive, boost productivity and support American manufacturing jobs.

“Primary metals industries are significant energy users, so opportunities to reduce energy consumption in this area is of great interest to our sponsors,” said HPC4Manufacturing Director Robin Miles of LLNL. “Additionally, this program is helping U.S. steel makers produce the higher strength steels vital to light weighting the next generation of automobiles.”

Funded by DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, the HPC4Mfg Program is administered by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) along with managing principal laboratories Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

The four projects receiving funding are:

• LLNL working with the U.S. Steel Corporation on a hot strip mill simulation model that will provide predictions of through-thickness temperature, deformation behavior and associated microstructure

• ORNL collaborating with Alcoa USA Corporation to use HPC simulations to understand and optimize the performance of Alcoa’s new advanced aluminum smelting cell

• LLNL and AK Steel Corporation working to demonstrate real-time modeling of hot strip milling for next-generation steels

• A collaboration by LLNL and ArcelorMittal USA to apply HPC and machine learning to enable more energy-efficient, defect-free manufacturing of steel slabs

DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, is providing $300,000 for each project. Participating companies are required to contribute in-kind funds of at least 20 percent of DOE’s funding for the project. Each project is funded for one year.

To date, the HPC4Mfg program has granted nearly $20 million for 64 projects. Recent projects include efforts to improve the manufacturing of solid-state lithium-ion batteries, increasing the efficiency of gas turbine combustors, optimizing laser-based metal 3D printing platforms, improving energy efficiency and reducing waste during the papermaking process and reducing emissions in diesel engines.