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Feature Story | Argonne National Laboratory

Caterpillar-Argonne team to pursue improved diesel engine combustion systems

Partnership will pursue a unique approach that combines high-performance computing, additive manufacturing and higher-fidelity design and simulation models.

Caterpillar Inc. and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory are joining forces to research heavy-duty diesel engines. This project is funded by the Department’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) and Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) and is one of seven public-private partnerships recently selected under the DOE’s High Performance Computing for Manufacturing (HPC4Mfg) program.

The HPC4Mfg program fosters collaboration between the DOE’s national laboratories and U.S. manufacturers. The Caterpillar–Argonne team aims to increase efficiency and reduce emissions by optimizing the Caterpillar C15 piston and fuel spray geometry through simulation.

Harnessing Caterpillar and Argonne expertise for ground-breaking solutions

We look forward to harnessing the power of both Caterpillar’s and Argonne’s industry-leading research expertise and world-class facilities to develop ground-breaking solutions for diesel engine design,” said Jon Anders, principal investigator and senior engineering specialist in the Innovation & Technology Development division at Caterpillar.

Caterpillar and Argonne plan to pursue a unique approach that will combine high-performance computing (HPC), additive manufacturing (AM) and higher fidelity design and simulation models. The organizations plan to build and test heavy-duty diesel engines that reduce emissions and improve fuel economy. Another goal of the project is to reduce manufacturing design costs and reduce the lead times needed to expand research-derived technology to industrial-scale manufacturing processes.

As the world’s leading manufacturer of construction/mining equipment and diesel engines, Caterpillar has state-of-the-art single- and multi-cylinder engine test facilities as well as facilities devoted to traditional and additive manufacturing. The company has a history of pushing the limits of engine simulation and continues to be a proponent of fundamental improvements in modeling capability. Caterpillar leverages large-scale HPC resources — including Argonne’s Mira supercomputer at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF), a DOE Office of Science User Facility, and computing resources at Argonne’s Laboratory Computing Resource Center, which supports internal laboratory users — to enhance throughput from simulations.

Furthering collaboration between Caterpillar and Argonne

Argonne and Caterpillar will work in tandem through multiple stages of the HPC4Mfg project using HPC simulations at Argonne and engine and AM testing facilities at Caterpillar. Caterpillar’s plan to team with Argonne stems from previous joint projects and the desire to combine Caterpillar’s engine expertise with the laboratory’s expertise in fuel spray and combustion modeling using CONVERGE (a computational fluid dynamics software package widely used in industry) with HPC systems at the laboratory. Argonne, Caterpillar and Convergent Science have collaborated in previous DOE-funded projects as well.

I welcome this opportunity to partner with Caterpillar to help optimize heavy-diesel engine combustion and make a meaningful impact on boosting fuel economy and reducing emissions,” noted Prithwish Kundu, a staff researcher at Argonne who will lead the simulation effort.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy supports early-stage research and development of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies to strengthen U.S. economic growth, energy security, and environmental quality.

EERE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) supports applied research, development and demonstration of new materials and processes for energy efficiency in manufacturing as well as platform technologies for the manufacturing of clean energy products.

EERE’s Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) supports research and development (R&D) of efficient and sustainable transportation technologies that will improve energy efficiency and affordability. These technologies, which include advanced batteries and electrification, lightweight materials, advanced combustion systems and fuels, as well as energy efficient mobility systems, will increase America’s energy security, economic vitality, and quality of life.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit the Office of Science website.