Visit additional Tabor Communication Publications
October 06, 2010
Researchers seek new solutions for practical removal of hazardous contaminants
Oct. 6 -- The Hanford Site in Washington -- which produced fuel slugs for nuclear weapons, acted as a waste storage facility for nearly five decades, and was one of three primary locations for the Manhattan Project -- is among the most contaminated nuclear waste grounds in the country. A research team led by Peter C. Lichtner of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is using the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility's (OLCF's) Jaguar supercomputer, located at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), to build a three-dimensional model of an underground uranium waste plume at the Hanford Site's 300 Area. A better understanding of the underground migration properties of uranium, which has infiltrated the Columbia River, may aid stakeholders in weighing options for contaminant remediation.
"The project's results could certainly help one decide how to go about remediating the site, if it's even feasible," said Lichtner, whose project receives funding from the Department of Energy (DOE) Offices of Biological and Environmental Research and Advanced Scientific Computing Research. "The results could apply to other sites along the Columbia River that are contaminated too. And what we learn from this site we should be able to apply to other sites as well, not only at Hanford, but also around the country -- at Oak Ridge and other areas dealing with contamination."
The Hanford plume has been leaking contaminants into groundwater and the nearby Columbia River for decades. Waste from nuclear weapons production has been stored at Hanford since the early 1940s, mostly in underground tanks. But the uranium now penetrating the groundwater and river had simply been discharged to ponds and trenches, Lichtner said.
This research, among the latest in cleanup efforts of the Hanford Site, stems from a 1989 Tri-Party Agreement involving the Washington Department of Ecology, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and DOE.
Lichtner's collaborators include Glenn Hammond of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Bobby Philip and Richard Mills of ORNL; Barry Smith of Argonne National Laboratory, Dave Moulton and Daniil Svyatskiy of LANL, and Al Valocchi of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Uncovering the unseen
The Hanford Site covers 586 square miles of land. Contaminants of several types and quantities are spread throughout the site, including uranium, copper, and sodium aluminate. The uranium plume is in Hanford's 300 Area, a roughly 1.5 square mile site approximately 109 yards west of the Columbia River.
As uranium decays it emits alpha particles. Because skin blocks alpha particles, external exposure is not deemed a risk. In fact, uranium is classified as a heavy-metal hazard rather than a radiation one. Ingestion in high doses can cause bone or liver cancer or kidney damage. The EPA has set a contaminant limit of 30 micrograms per liter. The uranium contaminating Hanford's 300 Area exceeds this limit by four times, according to field tests.
A challenge for Lichtner's team is to predict the loss of uranium from the plume into the river. Initial simulation results coupled with field tests indicate that from 55 to 110 pounds of uranium leech into the Columbia River each year from the estimated 55 to 83 tons of source uranium. Yet until further research is conducted, these numbers remain very uncertain, said Lichtner, whose goal is to decrease this uncertainty.
The team performed massively parallel simulations of depleted uranium flow through soil using PFLOTRAN, a code developed under a project called SciDAC-2, which aims to advance computing at the petascale -- or a quadrillion calculations per second. The code has been run on more than 130,000 processors of ORNL's Jaguar XT5 supercomputer to describe the flow of fluid through porous media, in this case the movement of soluble depleted uranium through a soil mixture of sand, gravel, and fine-grained silts. The plume measures 984 × 1,422 × 22 yards and was simulated using nearly 2 million control volumes, or grid cells, of 5.5 × 5.5 × 0.5 cubic meters each. The team calculated the uranium loss from the plume and the flux into the Columbia River at 1 hour intervals, which allowed construction of realistic models of the river's interaction with the migrating plume.
The chemical properties of uranium and additional compounds composing the plume require the model to account for more than 28 million degrees of freedom -- the number of actions these compounds might take as the plume migrates. The team simulated one year in only 11 hours by using more than 4,000 processors. Such speed is crucial to Hanford's timely remediation.
Source: Wes Wade, Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility
The Xeon Phi coprocessor might be the new kid on the high performance block, but out of all first-rate kickers of the Intel tires, the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) got the first real jab with its new top ten Stampede system.We talk with the center's Karl Schultz about the challenges of programming for Phi--but more specifically, the optimization...
Although Horst Simon was named Deputy Director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, he maintains his strong ties to the scientific computing community as an editor of the TOP500 list and as an invited speaker at conferences.
Supercomputing veteran, Bo Ewald, has been neck-deep in bleeding edge system development since his twelve-year stint at Cray Research back in the mid-1980s, which was followed by his tenure at large organizations like SGI and startups, including Scale Eight Corporation and Linux Networx. He has put his weight behind quantum company....
May 16, 2013 |
When it comes to cloud, long distances mean unacceptably high latencies. Researchers from the University of Bonn in Germany examined those latency issues of doing CFD modeling in the cloud by utilizing a common CFD and its utilization in HPC instance types including both CPU and GPU cores of Amazon EC2.
May 15, 2013 |
Supercomputers at the Department of Energy’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) have worked on important computational problems such as collapse of the atomic state, the optimization of chemical catalysts, and now modeling popping bubbles.
May 10, 2013 |
Program provides cash awards up to $10,000 for the best open-source end-user applications deployed on 100G network.
May 09, 2013 |
The Japanese government has revealed its plans to best its previous K Computer efforts with what they hope will be the first exascale system...
May 08, 2013 |
For engineers looking to leverage high-performance computing, the accessibility of a cloud-based approach is a powerful draw, but there are costs that may not be readily apparent.
05/10/2013 | Cleversafe, Cray, DDN, NetApp, & Panasas | From Wall Street to Hollywood, drug discovery to homeland security, companies and organizations of all sizes and stripes are coming face to face with the challenges – and opportunities – afforded by Big Data. Before anyone can utilize these extraordinary data repositories, however, they must first harness and manage their data stores, and do so utilizing technologies that underscore affordability, security, and scalability.
04/15/2013 | Bull | “50% of HPC users say their largest jobs scale to 120 cores or less.” How about yours? Are your codes ready to take advantage of today’s and tomorrow’s ultra-parallel HPC systems? Download this White Paper by Analysts Intersect360 Research to see what Bull and Intel’s Center for Excellence in Parallel Programming can do for your codes.
In this demonstration of SGI DMF ZeroWatt disk solution, Dr. Eng Lim Goh, SGI CTO, discusses a function of SGI DMF software to reduce costs and power consumption in an exascale (Big Data) storage datacenter.
The Cray CS300-AC cluster supercomputer offers energy efficient, air-cooled design based on modular, industry-standard platforms featuring the latest processor and network technologies and a wide range of datacenter cooling requirements.