Stanford Researchers to Target Solar Efficiency

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Over at Stanford News, Bjorn Carey writes that Associate Professor Gianluca Laccarino will lead a $3.2 million project that will use the next generation of supercomputers to model techniques that could dramatically increase the efficiency of solar power.

As a first step to generating electricity, traditional solar-thermal systems use mirrors to concentrate solar radiation on a solid surface and transfer energy to a fluid. In the proposed system, particles in the fluid would absorb sunlight and directly transfer the heat evenly throughout the fluid. Predicting uncertainty within such a system makes it difficult to predict what happens when the alignment of the mirrors is imprecise and the suspended particles aren’t of uniform size.

We need to rigorously assess the impacts of these sensitivities to be able to compute the efficiency of a system like this,” Iaccarino said. “There is currently no supercomputer in the world that can do this, and no physical model.”

In order to crack this problem, Stanford and the other program participants will need to develop programming environments and computational approaches that target an Exascale computer, a system not expected until 2018 or beyond. Read the Full Story.