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Supercomputers and Energy Research

The National Science Foundation has awarded funding to Blaise Bourdin, an associate professor with the Louisianna State University Department of Mathematics and an adjunct faculty member with the LSU Center for Computation & Technology (CCT) for his proposal, "Applications of Variational Fracture: Enhanced Geothermal Systems."

Enhanced geothermal systems are an alternative energy source in which heat is created when water circulates through artificially simulated fractures in rocks. Although intensely researched, enhanced geothermal systems are not widely used to produce energy. Bourdin's research in this proposal will examine the mechanisms scientists can use to create these artificial fractures and expand the use of geothermal systems, creating a clean, renewable, affordable and widely available energy source.

Using the University's supercomputers and the resources of the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative, or LONI, Bourdin's group will develop new models to create artificial fractures that produce energy. They will use supercomputers to get a more accurate idea of how this process works and conduct large-scale experiments to test their findings. The group will combine mathematics, computational science and engineering research to better study these systems. The National Science Foundation funding will support the research of two undergraduate students and one graduate student for three years.

This proposal is funded through NSF funds stemming from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This project is the first step in what Bourdin intends to develop into a larger, multi-disciplinary research initiative at the CCT. Bourdin works with the Coast to Cosmos Focus Area at CCT, which looks at how high-performance computing can help scientists get a better understanding of physical processes in earth, space and the environment.

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