Summit at ORNL remains No. 2 in world

The Summit supercomputer, a 200-petaflop IBM system that is the world’s second most powerful, is pictured above at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. (Photo courtesy Katie Bethea/ORNL)

The Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory remains the fastest supercomputer in the United States and the second most powerful in the world.

Summit, an IBM system, was the world’s most powerful supercomputer from June 2018 to November 2019, when the U.S. Department of Energy had the two fastest systems in the world.

DOE still has two of the three fastest supercomputers, Summit at ORNL and Sierra at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California. And it has three of the top five systems in the world. DOE has a new supercomputer, Perlmutter, ranked at number five. It’s at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in Berkeley, California. Perlmutter was the only new system in the top 10 in the semiannual TOP500 list released Monday.

Summit was bumped from the top spot on the TOP500 list by a Japanese supercomputer, Fugaku, in June 2020.

Fugaku, which is in Kobe, Japan, remained in the top spot on the TOP500 list released in November and again on the list released Monday. The TOP500 list uses a benchmark test to rank the world’s most powerful supercomputers.

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ORNL launches new business accelerator for energy tech entrepreneurs

Pictured above during an Innovations Crossroads business accelerator announcement on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016, at the National Transportation Research Center in Hardin Valley are, from left, Mark Johnson, Johanna Wolfson, Moe Khaleel, Thomas McDonald, Charlie Brock. (Photo by ORNL)

Pictured above during an Innovation Crossroads business accelerator announcement on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016, at the National Transportation Research Center in Hardin Valley are, from left, Mark Johnson, Johanna Wolfson, Moe Khaleel, Thomas McDonald, and Charlie Brock. (Photo by ORNL)


The nation’s top innovators will soon have the opportunity to advance their promising energy technology ideas at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in a new program called Innovation Crossroads. Up to five entrepreneurs will receive a fellowship that covers living costs, benefits, and a travel stipend for up to two years, plus up to $350,000 to use on collaborative research and development at ORNL. The first cohort is expected to start the program in early 2017, a press release said.

A growing global population and increased industrialization require new approaches to energy that are reliable, affordable, and carbon neutral. While important progress has been made in cost reduction and deployment of clean energy technologies, a new program at DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, or EERE, will invest in the next generation of first-time clean energy entrepreneurs to accelerate the pace of innovation, the press release said.

Innovation Crossroads is the most recent clean energy accelerator to launch at a DOE national laboratory and the first located in the Southeast. ORNL is the nation’s largest science and energy laboratory, with expertise and resources in clean energy, computing, neutron science, advanced materials, and nuclear science. [Read more…]

DOE investing $19 million in building efficiency, with four of 18 awards to ORNL

Ernest Moniz

Ernest Moniz

The U.S. Department of Energy announced Friday that it is investing $19 million to improve the efficiency of the nation’s homes, offices, schools, hospitals, restaurants, and stores. The projects will develop advanced building technologies that will help American consumers and businesses save money on their utility bills, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create jobs, a press release said.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory received four of the 18 awards.

Buildings are the largest energy consumer in the nation—accounting for more than 40 percent of the nation’s total energy demand and greenhouse emissions, and resulting in an annual energy bill totaling $430 billion, the press release said. On average, nearly a third of this energy is wasted. It’s estimated that if the U.S. reduced energy use in buildings by 20 percent, the nation could save nearly $80 billion annually on energy bills.

The 18 innovative projects announced Friday will develop sensors and energy modeling tools to make buildings smarter, reduce refrigerant leaks and improve the efficiency of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC&R) systems, and produce a low-impact, gas-powered heat pump that can operate efficiently in colder climates. The projects will also support renewable energy market penetration through energy storage, pinpoint air leaks and reduce energy losses through the building envelope, and cut electricity use by transmitting sunlight to building interiors, the press release said. [Read more…]

BESC, Mascoma develop revolutionary microbe for biofuel production


A yeast engineered by Mascoma and BESC could hold the key to accelerating the production of ethanol in the U.S. (Submitted photo)


Biofuels pioneer Mascoma LLC and the U.S. Department of Energy’s BioEnergy Science Center have developed a revolutionary strain of yeast that could help significantly accelerate the development of biofuels from nonfood plant matter.

BESC is led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The approach could provide a pathway to eventual expansion of biofuels production beyond the current output limited to ethanol derived from corn.

C5 FUEL, engineered by researchers at Mascoma and BESC, features fermentation and ethanol yields that set a new standard for conversion of biomass sugars from pretreated corn stover—the non-edible portion of corn crops such as the stalk—converting up to 97 percent of the plant sugars into fuel. [Read more…]

ORNL part of project to study how tropical forests respond to climate change

Amazon Tropical Rainforests

The future of tropical rainforests in the Amazon (pictured) and worldwide is the focus of a new research project that combines field experiments and predictive modeling. (Photo courtesy ORNL)


Researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory will play key roles in an expansive new project that aims to bring the future of tropical forests and the climate system into much clearer focus by coupling field research with the development of a new ecosystem model.

The project is called the Next Generation Ecosystem Experiments-Tropics, or NGEE-Tropics. Its goal is the development of a model that represents how tropical forests interact with Earth’s climate in much greater ecological detail than ever before. This will help scientists explore, more accurately than is possible today, how rising temperatures, shifting precipitation patterns, increasing greenhouse gas levels, and other natural and human-induced changes affect tropical forests’ influence on Earth’s climate.

Led by DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), the effort includes collaborators from Oak Ridge, Brookhaven, Los Alamos, and Pacific Northwest national laboratories. The study also includes researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, NASA, and several institutions from other nations. [Read more…]

Chinese supercomputer still No. 1, Titan at ORNL remains No. 2

Jeff Nichols and Titan at ORNL

Jeff Nichols, associate director for computing and computational sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in front of Titan, which was the world’s fastest supercomputer in November 2012 but is now ranked No. 2. (Photo courtesy ORNL)

A Chinese supercomputer kept its No. 1 spot, and Titan at Oak Ridge National Laboratory stayed at No. 2 in the latest semiannual ranking of the world’s most powerful supercomputers.

The Chinese supercomputer, Tianhe-2, was developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology, and it’s been in the top spot three times in a row on the Top500 List. Tianhe-2 bumped Titan from the top spot in June 2013.

The Chinese supercomputer performed at 33.86 petaflops—that’s 33.86 quadrillion calculations per second—on a test known as the Linpack benchmark, the press release said. Titan performed at 17.59 petaflops.

There was little change among the ranking of the world’s Top 10 supercomputers in the latest edition of the closely watched list, a press release said. The only new entry was at number 10—a 3.14-petaflop Cray XC30 installed at an undisclosed U.S. government site.

The Top500 list was announced Monday morning. The list is compiled by Erich Strohmaier and Horst Simon of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Jack Dongarra of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and Martin Meuer of Prometeus, Germany. [Read more…]

Budget cuts cause concern in research community, including at ORNL

Thom Mason

Thom Mason

The budget deal that Congress approved earlier this month to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling kept in place automatic budget cuts known as sequestration.

But those across-the-board cuts are causing concern in the scientific community, including at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

In August, ORNL Director Thom Mason said the lab had been, up to that point, mostly immune from the cuts because of steps that UT-Battelle, the managing and operating contractor, had already taken to cut costs, including through workforce restructuring, reduced staff and overhead budgets, and benefit changes.

“We’ve just been doing everything we can to prepare for lean budgets,” Mason said. [Read more…]

UT names solar nanotechnology expert, ORNL deputy as Governor’s Chair

Ramamoorthy Ramesh

Ramamoorthy Ramesh

KNOXVILLE—Ramamoorthy Ramesh, an authority in the physics of functional materials, has been named the 12th University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge National Laboratory Governor’s Chair. He has also been appointed as deputy director for science and technology at ORNL.

Ramesh will serve as Governor’s Chair for Nanomaterials Engineering, based in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. He began on June 1. [Read more…]