Strategic Partnership in Computational Science for Advanced Simulation and Modelling of Engineering Systems - ASiMoV

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre


The strategic vision of this Prosperity Partnership for Advanced Simulation and Modelling of Virtual Systems (ASiMoV) is to enable the research and development of the next generation of engineering simulation and modelling techniques. Our aim is to achieve the world's first high fidelity simulation of a complete gas-turbine engine during operation, simultaneously including the effects of thermo-mechanics, electromagnetics, and CFD. This level of simulation will require breakthroughs at all levels, including physical models, numerical solvers, algorithms, software infrastructure, and Exascale HPC hardware. Our partnership uniquely combines fundamental engineering and computational science research with two high tech SMEs and Rolls-Royce plc to address a challenge that is well beyond the capabilities of today's numerical solvers.

Simulation and modelling, enabled by high performance computing, have transformed the way products are designed and engineered. The technology developed for the Trent XWB, the world's most efficient aero engine, could only have been achieved through simulation and modelling. However, next generation products will place demands on simulation that cannot be met by incremental changes to current techniques. The ACARE Flightpath 2050 goals demand fundamental changes to engine architectures and the 2015 Aerospace Technology Institute Propulsion Strategy identified "virtual certification" as a key technology needed in the 2025-30 timeframe. The journey to virtual certification is an incremental one requiring a thorough evidential database to convince the certification authorities that the analysis can be trusted. It will move forward on a number of fronts. One of those is the whole engine tests to certify operational performance and thrust.

Our driving ambition is to realise new simulation technology for the ultra-high resolution and extreme scale needed for meaningful virtual certification models. For Rolls-Royce, virtual certification will bring a major business transformation requiring unprecedented trust in simulation and fundamental changes to design processes and skills. Estimated cost savings for virtual certification are measured in the many £millions per engine programme; but, we also estimate that each simulation will require a billion core hours. At this scale, savings from computational cost and performance optimisation will be £millions per design study. Hence the need for ASiMoV to push forward the boundaries of numerical modelling and simulation on the next generation of Exascale supercomputers.

Planned Impact

The Prosperity Partnership for Advanced Simulation and Modelling of Virtual Systems (ASiMoV) will deliver the modelling and simulation techniques and software technologies to bring virtual certification into the mainstream of the aerospace propulsion sector. Its anticipated impact will be transformational in this sector and the science and engineering knowledge gained will have broad impact across many disciplines. Although the sector tackled is a very specific one, the challenges this sector faces are repeated across many disciplines that require to perform high-fidelity simulations of complex, large systems on today and tomorrow's massively parallel High Performance Computing (HPC) systems as we approach the age of Exascale computing.

Impact will occur at multiple levels. First and foremost, ASiMoV will undertake a carefully structured programme of research and development designed to develop the next generation of engineering simulation and modelling techniques leading to the world's first high-fidelity simulation of a complete gas-turbine engine during operation. This will simultaneously include the effects of thermo-mechanics, electromagnetics, and computational fluid dynamics. The immediate economic impact to Rolls Royce plc, one of the UK's most successful and innovative companies, cannot be underestimated. Likewise, the two SMEs in the partnership, CFMS and ZenoTech will see direct economic impacts. Building from these direct impacts, a host of concurrent and complementary impacts across a broad range of engineering and scientific disciplines will be realised. The specific challenges facing ASiMoV, which are described in detail in the Case for Support, are widely recognised across the computational science engineering community worldwide.

From an academic research standpoint, there are broad knowledge impacts which the University partners will seek to realise through a comprehensive publication and communication strategy. The challenges posed to computational science and engineering by massively parallel HPC systems are broadly similar across a wide range of disciplines. As parallelism increases, memory hierarchies become more complex and memory bandwidth issues become dominant. Coupled to this, internode communication latencies and bandwidth issues lead to poor scaling and limit the fidelity and complexity of simulations across all scientific and engineering domains.

In addition to the broad academic research impacts expected of such a large project, ASiMoV will help to address the severe shortage of people with computational science skills in the UK today. The University partnership represented in ASiMoV represents the vast majority of research groups and centres who operate MSc and PhD programmes in this area. Graduates have no difficulty finding jobs and are in demand. Growing this pipeline will go beyond the small number of PhD studentships funded in ASiMoV and any resulting MSc projects. For example, we will develop stories and interactive activities on the work of ASiMoV and use these in its schools' outreach work such as at the annual Big Bang Fair - the UK's largest STEM fair for schools - held in Birmingham each year. This material will be shared with and augmented by all the partners in the partnership.

In summary, ASiMoV will have impact in many areas of science and engineering. These will benefit the industry and academic partners directly, but also the country more generally through the many related activities it will stimulate.