Monash University researchers awarded giant compute grants to generate great science

The ALCG grant will help scientists address many open questions surrounding supernova explosions and neutron stars.

Congratulations to Monash University scientists who have been awarded three of the five NCI Australia 2021 Australasian Leadership Computing Grants (ALCG).

The researchers will use substantial grants of computing time to work on some of the most complex problems facing science today.

Success in the highly-competitive ALCG process will facilitate five teams accelerating their research and producing unprecedented results at incredible resolution.

NCI Director Professor Sean Smith said the high-quality applications received in this round built on the growing depth and breadth of compute-driven investigations and are a testament to the tremendous scientific talent in Australia.” said Professor Smith.

Five projects have been awarded a total of almost 150 million units of compute time, which is equivalent to 20,000 years of constant calculations on one single computer.

The successful Monash University recipients are:

Dr Bernhard Mueller (Monash University School of Physics and Astronomy)

Project: High-resolution Core-Collapse Supernova Simulations

Core-collapse supernovae, the spectacular explosions of massive stars, are one of the grand challenges in computational astrophysics, a true multi-physics problem that involves multi-dimensional turbulent fluid flow, neutrino radiation transport, extremely strong magnetic fields, general relativity, and nuclear physics. This project aims to conduct high-resolution 3D simulations to investigate the effects of turbulence, magnetic fields, and general relativity on supernova formation. With models that set new standards in terms of numerical accuracy and physical completeness, the researchers seek to find a solution to the supernova “energy problem” and to reliably predict the properties of the leftover neutron star, the gravitational waves emitted from the supernova core, and the chemical elements made by nuclear fusion during the explosion.

Associate Professor Ekaterina Pas (Monash University School of Chemistry)

Project: Design of Phase Change Materials of the Future

This project aims to design improved Phase Change Materials (PCMs) for use in heat storage and conversion in buildings and industry. These PCMs store and release heat as they melt and freeze. Carefully designed PCMs with very precise melting and freezing points have significant commercial value and environmental benefits as they reduce energy use for heating and cooling buildings, thereby reducing emissions from the housing sector. The research team will use world-leading software running on NCI’s entire set of Graphic Processing Units to efficiently investigate the properties of various promising PCMs, certain organic ionic salts.

Professor Julio Soria (Monash University Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering)

Project: High-fidelity direct numerical simulation of high Reynolds number turbulent thermal boundary layer flow with distributed high energy heat sources: An analogy for high-fidelity simulations of bushfires

This project aims to simulate the turbulent boundary layer of bushfires at high resolution, taking into account the interactions between different kinds of fuel sources and the atmosphere. Direct Numerical Simulations will be used to investigate flows of energy, mass and momentum present within turbulent bushfire flows. Bushfires are complex to measure and predict. This research should help to provide detailed, physically accurate information about the processes occurring in and around a bushfire.

Other winners included Professor Ben Corry from the Australian National University and Professor Alan E Mark from the University of Queensland.

Research will take place on NCI’s Gadi supercomputer, commissioned in early 2020, and funded under the Australian Government's National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS). NCI Australia brings the Australian Government and the Australian research sector together through a collaboration involving CSIRO, The Australian National University, Bureau of Meteorology, Geoscience Australia, universities, industry and the Australian Research Council. Commenting on the award Dr Mueller said the ALCG grant would help scientists address many open questions surrounding supernova explosions, neutron stars, and the origin of many chemical elements that we believe are made in massive stars.

“Astronomical observations tell us that most massive stars end their life in a supernova explosion, but to figure out how these explosions work we rely on simulations to ‘look inside the star’,” Dr Mueller said.

“Constructing accurate supernova models is tough, and the scale of the allocation finally allows us to perform the high-resolution simulations that we think are needed to achieve the necessary degree of realism,” he said.

Watch a video of the five successful applicants below.


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