GE Aerospace performs one of the largest supercomputer simulations to examine new open fan engine architecture

Published on:

June 17, 2023 

GE Aerospace has run simulations on the world’s fastest supercomputer, capable of processing data at exascale speed, or more than a quintillion calculations per second, to assist the development of a revolutionary new open fan engine architecture for the future of aviation.

GE Aerospace developed software that can run on Frontier, a newly commissioned supercomputer at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory with the processing capability of around 37,000 GPUs. In comparison, Frontier’s processing speed is so fast that it would take all of humanity more than four years to accomplish what the supercomputer can in one second. The company was able to simulate the air movement of a full-scale open fan design in remarkable detail by combining GE Aerospace’s computational fluid dynamics software with Frontier.

“Creating game-changing new aircraft engines necessitates the development of game-changing technical capabilities.” GE Aerospace engineers are reinventing the future of flying with supercomputing and tackling problems that were previously unthinkable,” stated Mohamed Ali, vice president and general manager of engineering for GE Aerospace.

“We are demonstrating 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 towards its target of net zero CO2 emissions by 2050,” Ali said.

The CFM RISE Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Engines programme, launched by GE Aerospace and Safran Aircraft Engines in 2021, comprises the development of innovative new engine topologies such as the open fan, as well as advanced thermal management, combustion, and hybrid electric capabilities. The RISE Program’s goal is to create technologies that will allow a future engine to consume 20% less fuel and emit 20% less CO2 than today’s most efficient engines.

CFM International continues to advance open fan engine architecture with the RISE programme, which removes the nacelle for increased propulsive efficiency while achieving the same speed and cabin experience that commercial aviation passengers demand today. The use of supercomputing power and software tools by GE Aerospace is assisting engineers in understanding open fan aerodynamic and acoustic principles in novel ways. For example, Frontier enables better evaluation of novel engine technology at flight scale throughout the design process. As a result, GE can better optimise engine performance and airframe integration by improving test hardware designs.

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

About GE Aerospace

GE Aerospace is a world-leading provider of commercial and military jet engines, components, and systems, as well as a global service network to support these capabilities. GE Aerospace and its joint ventures have over 40,000 commercial and 26,000 military aircraft engines in service, and the company is helping to shape the future of aviation.


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