Current practice in the design of hydro-power plants is to determine empirically the most suitable design in a series of time-consuming experiments. However, SMEs in this sector have to face private and public tenders to sell their turbines in both national and global markets, where the competition is very strong and the development time is very short. The challenge facing Zeco was therefore to improve their design processes to remain competitive.
Their idea was to make extensive use of HPC-based high-fidelity simulations of flow in the turbines by using CFD-based tools. The development of a customized workflow was realized teaming up with CINECA, an HPC centre that provided its expertise and infrastructure, and Enginsoft, a CAE consulting company, winning a grant of the EU-funded project Fortissimo.
Fortissimo enables European SMEs to be more competitive globally through the use of simulation services running on a High Performance Computing (HPC) cloud infrastructure. Through different experiments, Fortissimo partners provide the participating SMEs with free access to HPC-resources via cloud-infrastructure and support them in the planning, implementation and realisation of relevant simulations to improve their industrial products and processes.
Fortissimo receives High Performance Computing Innovation Award
The Zeco led experiment, named SuRE_HPC, was particularly successful and was selected among 110 applicants as the winner of the prestigious Hyperion Research HPC Innovation Award. This prize is awarded twice a year with the goal to showcase return on investment (ROI) and success stories involving HPC and to raise awareness about the benefits and need of adopting HPC, especially for small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs).
The prize awarded to SuRE_HPC recognises in particular the outstanding achievements enabled by HPC simulation, which allowed the Italian SME Zeco to considerably improve its competitive position.
The experiment demonstrated that the HPC application developed to facilitate the design of small hydro power plant led to plants delivering more energy at lower maintenance cost with drastically reduced design times (3 months instead of a year). Offering a much better product at significantly reduced design and production cost in much shorter time-to-market, Zeco expects to increase its market share by at least 5%.