GE Aerospace Runs New Engine Architecture Simulations on Frontier Exascale Supercomputer

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GE Aerospace has announced that to support the development of a new open fan jet engine architecture, the organization has run simulations using Frontier, the world’s no. 1 ranked supercomputer, housed at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. To model engine performance and noise levels, GE Aerospace created computational fluid dynamics software to run on Frontier. GE said it was able to simulate air movement of a full-scale open fan design “with incredible detail.”

GE Aerospace and Safran Aircraft Engines unveiled in 2021 the CFM RISE* (Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Engines) program, which includes development of engine architectures, such as the open fan, along with advanced thermal management, combustion, and hybrid electric capabilities. The RISE Program’s goal is to develop technologies enabling “at least” 20 percent lower fuel consumption and 20 percent fewer CO2 emissions compared to today’s most efficient engines, according to GE.

Through the RISE program, CFM International continues to mature open fan engine architecture, which removes the nacelle for greater propulsive efficiency while achieving the same speed and cabin experience commercial aviation passengers can expect from air travel today, GE and Safran said.

“GE Aerospace’s use of supercomputing power and software tools are helping engineers understand open fan aerodynamic and acoustic physics in new ways,” GE said in its announcement. “For example, Frontier unlocks the ability to better evaluate new engine technologies at flight scale in the design phase. As a result, GE can improve test hardware designs and better optimize engine performance and airframe integration.”

Frontier supercomputer

Frontier is an HPE Cray EX supercomputer with more than 9,400 nodes, each equipped with a 3rd Gen AMD EPYC CPU and four AMD Instinct 250X GPU accelerators.

“GE Aerospace’s work illustrates one of the primary features of exascale computing: The ability to understand nature quantitatively in its full complexity,” said Bronson Messer, director of science for ORNL’s Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, which houses Frontier. “Like any unique scientific instrument, realizing this promise requires dedicated experts like the GE Aerospace team and OLCF staff to turn ideas into insight. This result is a tour de force of computational science, made possible by collaborations like this and the unique capabilities of Frontier.”

GE Aerospace and its advanced research center have collaborated with the DOE for more than a decade to demonstrate the impact of high-performance computing on industrial design for flight. GE said progress on the RISE program is on track for ground and flight tests in the middle of this decade to demonstrate new technologies for use in future commercial aircraft engines that could enter service in the mid-2030s.

“Developing game-changing new aircraft engines requires game-changing technical capabilities. With supercomputing, GE Aerospace engineers are redefining the future of flight and solving problems that would have previously been impossible,” said Mohamed Ali, vice president and general manager of engineering for GE Aerospace. “Together with the U.S. Department of Energy and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, we are showing supercomputing to be a revolutionary tool for designing aircraft engines for a once-in-a-generation step change in improved fuel efficiency — critical for helping the aviation industry toward its target of net zero CO2 emissions by 2050.”