For more than two decades, Lawrence Livermore researchers have pioneered the use of high-performance computing (HPC) to virtually design, prototype, and test new components—and entire systems—for national security missions. This approach represents a radical departure from routine industry practices in which prototypes are designed, built, field-tested, and then reworked, significantly increasing time and expense.
Aerospace engineer and computational physicist Greg Burton is applying HPC as leader of Lawrence Livermore’s Turbulence Analysis and Simulation Center (TASC). Under his direction, TASC staff is responding to a national need for routine—and more affordable—access to space. Computational engineers are developing new simulation tools and techniques to guide the development of cost-effective rocket engines and space-launch vehicles for national security and scientific exploration. A collaboration with General Electric Global Research is aimed at improving the efficiency of GE’s jet engines through advanced supercomputer simulations in a project managed by Livermore’s High Performance Computing Innovation Center.
Problems in turbulence impact many areas of Livermore’s national security mission, from energy security to nuclear security to economic security. “Very few institutions have both the know-how and the computational capability needed to study turbulence problems in all their real-world complexity,” says Greg.
Greg holds a Ph.D. in Aerospace Sciences from the University of Michigan, with postdoctoral fellowship appointments at Stanford University’s Center for Turbulence Research (CTR) and then at Lawrence Livermore. He returned to Stanford to serve as the CTR’s Senior Fellow before accepting a position with Livermore in 2010 as its senior expert in turbulence modeling.
“There are great opportunities for young people at Livermore,” he says. “The Laboratory rewards people with knowledge, energy, and insight, who are willing to grapple with tough problems.”