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An Update on HPC's Missing Middle

The report "Council on Competitiveness and USC-ISI Broad Study of Desktop Technical Computing End Users and HPC" [pdf] by the Council on Competitiveness and sponsored by DARPA in 2008 found that a large number of companies deployed virtual prototyping and data modeling software (e.g., Computational Fluid Dynamics [CFD]) on entry level High Performance Computing (HPC) or desktop computers as opposed to realizing the performance and fidelity gains available with true HPC systems. In a subsequent follow up report [pdf] the authors coined the phrase 'the missing middle' to describe the gap in HPC usage.

RC Car Integrates Advanced Aerodynamics Package

Going fast and aerodynamics are intimately related, whether it's for a Formula 1 car or in this case for a remote control (RC) car. The Traxxas XO-1 is billed as "The World's Fastest Ready-To-Race Supercar" with a 0-100 mph time of under 5 seconds. More interesting than its out-and-out straight-line speed is that this RC car employs advanced aerodynamics for generating downforce.

CFD Study Confirms Fabric Ducts Are More Efficient Than Metal Ducts

An extensive Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) study [pdf] performed over 10 months by a team at Iowa State University [source: green building pro] confirmed what many room occupants long suspected - that fabric ducts offer better indoor air comfort compared to traditional metal ducts. Equally impressive, the study found that the fabric ducts provided a 22-27% improvement in energy efficiency compared to equivalent metal ducts.

Fabric Duct Example

Caedium Stars at SC11

Thanks to the effort and support of Wen-ming Ye from Microsoft, Caedium played a staring role at Super Computing 11 (SC11). SC11 is an annual gathering billed as the premier international supercomputing conference. This year's event was held in Seattle, November 12-18, and attracted record crowds - no doubt in eager anticipation of catching a glimpse of Caedium :-)

3D Printing Revolution Underway

With the ever expanding and affordable array of 3D printers (also known as rapid prototyping machines) new opportunities abound. I first covered 3D printing back in 2007. Since that time The New York Times has run a number of articles on 3D printing (Don't believe me? Then try searching Google for 3d printing site:nytimes.com) - an indication if ever it were needed that 3D printing has gone mainstream and entered the public's consciousness. So enough with all this virtual engineering, at some point you have to get physical and the 3D printing revolution is a great place to start.

Yet Another Roadable Aircraft

Yet another roadable aircraft or flying car? Yes, but the Model 367 BiPod [source: gizmag] is different because of who designed and built it. Burt Rutan - of SpaceShipOne fame - retired earlier this year from legendary prototype aircraft maker Scaled Composites. His last project was a hybrid-powered road and air vehicle. The twin fuselage, a signature design feature of many Scaled Composites airplanes, makes for a uniquely odd looking car design. One cockpit controls the vehicle while on the ground and the other cockpit controls the vehicle while in flight.

CFD Plays Well With World's Largest Boundary-Layer Wind Tunnel

The world's largest, scientific quality, boundary-layer wind tunnel was recently declared operational at the University of New Hampshire (UNH). The new wind tunnel known as the Flow Physics Facility (FPF) serves as a great example of how a wind tunnel and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) can form a mutually beneficial relationship.

Flow Physics Facility Building, UNHFlow Physics Facility Building, UNH

Innerspace Probe

The movies Innerspace and Fantastic Voyage both featured miniature submarines, piloted by miniaturized humans, roaming around inside a live patient. As the trend continues towards unmanned autonomous vehicles (UAVs) both in the air and in the water it seems the movies had half the story right – that of the miniature vehicle. For example, researchers in Japan have developed a self-propelled endoscope [source: Popular Science] that can swim mermaid-like through our digestive system.

Mermaid EndoscopeMermaid Endoscope

Wind Turbine Cluster Efficiency

I just came across an interesting study [source: Gizmag] on the total efficiency of wind turbine clusters that compared vertical-axis wind turbines with the more popular horizontal-axis wind turbines. The study compared the efficiency of a cluster of wind turbines rather than individual machines. The measure of efficiency was related to the area occupied by the clusters.

Wind FarmWind Farm

Compressed Air as an Energy Source

Is your next car going to be powered by compressed air? Probably not, but there are groups working with compressed air as an energy source for the usual transport suspects, i.e., cars and bikes, and also for energy storage in general. Though the energy density of compressed air is poor relative to fossil fuels, it scores well in terms of efficiency – if, and it’s a big if, you can raise its pressure to store energy and lower its pressure to recover energy at constant temperature (isothermal process) and with no heat transfer to the surroundings (adiabatic process).

Air CompressorAir Compressor

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