Funding secured to develop high-performance computer in Bristol to help tackle climate change

April 12, 2024

Highly complex projects aimed at easing the climate emergency, such as harvesting solar energy from space and harnessing the power of hydrogen, are to be made easier thanks to a new high-performance computing (HPC) system being developed in Bristol.

Digital engineering consultancy The Centre for Modelling and Simulation (CFMS), based on the Bristol & Bath Science Park, has been awarded £2.4m from the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology to develop the unique and highly adaptive system. 

Designed to tackle some of the biggest issues facing society, it will help accelerate the pace of addressing major sustainability issues such as hydrogen technology while also advancing pioneering energy projects.

A not-for-profit specialist in digital engineering, CFMS has pioneered new approaches to digital engineering, largely in the aerospace, automotive and other sectors, since its launch in 2010.

It has used its world-class modelling capability to automate designs for folding wingtips to improve aircraft efficiency, simulate floods to optimise defences, save millions of pounds in construction costs and used AI to optimise production-line inspections.

The new HPC will provide businesses with modern and flexible research-level computing, but with the heightened commercial security needed for industrial research dependent on proprietary data. 

CFMS said this was particularly important in the era of data-driven AI approaches, such as deep learning.

The centre will also complement other investments made into national computing infrastructure, such as the University of Bristol-hosted supercomputer, which will be among the most powerful in Europe when it opens at the neighbouring National Composites Centre later this year.

CFMS chief executive Sam Paice said: “Technology has a vital role to play in helping us deal with major and complex societal challenges, and finding solutions demands a novel and dynamic form of computing.

“With this funding, we’re poised to deliver a computer system that can cater for a wide spectrum of problems, keep pace with the relentless march of innovation and be flexible enough to manage extremely complex technology.”

The CFMS’s latest funding follows investment from the UK Space Agency’s Space Cluster Infrastructure Fund last November to develop a first-of-its-kind data centre for next generation space engineering, robotics, simulation and AI.

Sam Paice added: “The funding we’ve secured in recent months and the support we’ve received from industry is a ringing endorsement of our expertise in cutting-edge technology such as AI and digital engineering.

“It’s great news for CFMS, the South West and the UK as a whole.”

CFMS’ aim is to advance high-value design (HVD) in the UK through its four core service lines – data science, advanced simulation, model-based engineering, and engineering computing services – and to be the go-to independent, digital test bed for the design of high-value engineering products and processes.

Its digital test beds give a far greater understanding of how a product will perform throughout its lifecycle, creating a virtual replica of systems and processes used for investigation of options and opportunities in advance of physical development.

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