Application Areas in Engineering

The engineering industries of manufacturing, automotive, energy and aerospace have been identified as key for the operations of EXCELLERAT, partially overlapping and partially unique. These industries will be the key drivers for the overall service offering of the centre.


Manufacturing remains a major contributor to productivity growth, innovation performance and external competitiveness in Europe. Engineers in manufacturing mainly design, integrate, or improve manufacturing systems or related processes. In this industry, a good understanding of systems and machines, and the ability to see both the big picture and the fine details, is key. Their main goal is to optimise and/or automate the manufacturing process, in order to minimize costs and maximize productivity. This industry mainly employs graduates of mechanical or industrial engineering with some understanding of chemistry, as well as proficiency with computer-aided design (CAD) software. HPC has revolutionised the way products are manufactured and dramatically reduced the time and cost of design and production. HPC simulations have eliminated the need for building numerous prototypes for testing, and optimised manufacturing processes for ease of manufacture. A new need for HPC use in manufacturing comes from more recent technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT). Smart factories equip their machines and products with sensors to collect data, which will allow further optimisation of product development, design and production. HPC systems are expected to collect all this information, sort through it, and provide meaningful insights to manufacturing professionals.


The automotive industry is a cornerstone of the economies of EU Member States. The EU automotive industry is among the world’s largest producers of motor vehicles, and it represents Europe’s largest private investor in research and development (R&D). Automotive engineers work in the areas of design, development, and production of vehicles and their constituent parts. Products can range from high-performance motorsports to mass transit vehicles, as well as consumer vehicles. Factors included in vehicle design include: bodywork, fuel technology and emissions, electronics and control systems, fluid mechanics, and aerodynamics. The diversity of these areas makes automotive engineering a melting pot of disciplines, allowing automotive engineers (who may come from the fields of mechanics, electronics, industrial systems, or general engineering) to develop and experiment with an array of emergent technologies. Automotive engineering is also a unique combination of technological advancement and consumer-based design. Engineers strive to develop a product that both performs well, and is desirable to the consumer. In the coming decade, important changes will profoundly reshape the industry and its markets worldwide.

Aerodynamics has become an established part of vehicle design. Reducing the drag coefficient can greatly increase the fuel efficiency of vehicles, making them cheaper and more attractive for consumers, at the same time as reducing CO2 emissions. This is achieved by using simulation software running on HPC machines. Many opportunities lie ahead as the industry moves towards alternatives to fossil fuels, and towards meeting EU policy on greenhouse gas emission reduction. At the same time, HPC is also widely used in the automotive industry for testing the safety of the vehicles. Given these facts, the automotive industry foresees a need for greater computing power on all levels, for applications such as simulating combustion processes in engines, improving the crash worthiness of vehicles, and improving fuel economy.


Global energy demand is rising rapidly. The primary energy demand of the EU is estimated to rise by ~5% over the next 20 years. At the same time, the EU has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80-95% below 1990 levels by 2050. Engineers in the energy industry work in the sectors of oil, nuclear and renewables. In the oil and gas industry, engineers identify reserves and develop techniques to extract and refine petroleum. In the nuclear energy industry, engineers deal with mainly with maintenance, safety, and construction. In the renewable energy system, the primary aim is to convert natural resources into fuel,by researching new processes which will increase alternative fuel options. Professionals from a wide range of engineering areas are employed by the energy sector: chemical engineers, geologists, electrical engineers, mechanical and civil engineers. In the oil production process, HPC is mainly used to simulate the behaviour of oil reservoirs and plan positioning of wells for optimal extraction. The nuclear energy sector exploits HPC in practically all domains, from research, to life management, to accident safety. The cost, complexity and difficulty of performing experiments on irradiated materials are all significant drivers for using simulation tools. In the renewables sector, HPC is used for wind farm design, design of efficient combustion systems for biomass-derived fuels, and exploration of geophysics for hydrocarbon reservoirs. Furthermore, HPC offers great potential in the emerging application of real-time management of electricity networks, which allows automated control over transmission lines. With such a system, utility operators could optimise electric energy utilisation and reduce the number of emergency outages. Finally, simulations are used to aid utility companies in designing the electric grid of tomorrow by predicting the availability of intermittent energy sources such as wind and solar power, building more effective defences against cyberwarfare, and planning for widespread deployment of electric transportation.


Aerospace engineering is the primary field of engineering concerned with the development of aircraft and spacecraft. It is divided into two major and overlapping branches: aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering. Flight vehicles are subjected to demanding conditions, such as those produced by changes in atmospheric pressure and temperature, with structural loads applied upon vehicle components. Consequently, they are usually the products of various technological and engineering disciplines including aerodynamics, propulsion, avionics, materials science, structural analysis, and manufacturing. The interaction between these technologies is known as aerospace engineering. The European supply chain of aerospace engineering is tightly connected with market leaders such as Rolls-Royce, Airbus and BAE systems. In contrast to other engineering industries, in the aerospace both larger as well as smaller companies are experienced users of HPC, as it is considered a key enabling technology. The use of HPC simulation tools has improved aircraft fuel efficiency dramatically; the fuel used per passenger mile today is around 30% of what it was 40 years ago, and the industry aims to reduce fuel consumption by a further 25%. The Advisory Council for Aeronautic Research in Europe has several aims for the industry: to significantly reduce exhaust gas and noise by 2020; air traffic is expected to increase by a factor of 3; accidents should decrease by 80%; Passenger costs should drop by as much as 50%; and flights must become available in all but the most extreme weather conditions. To achieve these goals the industry needs the real-time simulation of a full aircraft in flight. The computational power needed to cope with this is estimated to be a factor of 107”“108 times higher than today’s capability. Only a major increase in HPC capability will enable the European aircraft industry to develop the necessary technology and optimise their products from an economical and sustainable point of view. The demand for compute power will grow further with the increased use of numerical optimisation in the design process.