Compressor components may be items of hardware, but they are still benefiting from advances in computer software as scientists look to help engineers make new and even better turbomachinery.

Pumps, fans, turbines and compressor components all fall into the category of machinery, which poses particular difficulties for designers due to the complex nature of the air flows produced during use.

In the US, scientists in Ohio are working to ensure modern computer software is capable of simulating these air flows, so that compressor components can be designed to high standards in the future.

Dr Jen-Ping Chen at Ohio State University is using the processing power of Ohio Supercomputer Centre in his research, and explains the importance of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) for component design.

“The successful combination of CFD simulation and experimentation can greatly supplement the understanding of [the] fundamental fluid behaviour of gas turbine systems,” he says.

In turn, this gives engineers the understanding they need to develop engine components for turbomachinery equipment at a more advanced level of sophistication.

As computers continue to grow in both speed and processing capacity, this is just one example of how the world’s most powerful supercomputers are helping to keep hardware components that have been used for decades on the path towards even better operation.