Supercomputer for Super Batteries

The Faraday Institution’s supercomputer Michael, located at UCL and dedicated to energy storage modelling and simulation, has run 270,000 jobs to accelerate research across the UK.

Multiple fields of energy storage research involve computationally intensive modelling or simulation. These methods could bring many advantages from identifying new materials that improve battery performance to designing advanced batteries without having to prototype and iteratively test them. With UK national computing resources fully subscribed, researchers often have to wait weeks or even months before being able to run simulations.

By the Numbers (2018 through 2020)
61Number of users across the Faraday Institution research programme
274,000Calculations completed
137,947,433Total core hours utilised

In 2018, the Faraday Institution installed a new supercomputer at UCL, Michael, dedicated solely to energy storage modelling and simulation. Since it was first installed, 61 researchers from six Faraday Institution projects have run over 270,000 jobs on the supercomputer, accessing the facility from University College London and the universities of Bath, Liverpool, Southampton, Cambridge, Imperial and Lancaster. A software upgrade completed during the COVID-19 pandemic doubled Michael’s capacity, enabling modelling and computational chemistry activities to proceed at pace while researchers were working remotely.

Discoveries made through using Michael have already led to potentially commercialisable results. Notably, University of Liverpool researchers computationally identified compositions most likely to generate new compounds for possible use as solid electrolytes. The success of this work has since led experimentalists to discovery a class of novel materials and the filing of a patent to the UK Intellectual Property Office. Commercialisation of this IP through licensing to third parties or formation of a spin-out company is being actively pursued.

The resources provided by Michael have allowed chemists to computationally guide experimental synthesis through the vast volume of chemical space to those compositions where new materials are found. This simply would not have been possible without sufficient access to a supercomputer.”

Dr Matthew Dyer, University of Liverpool

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