Energy, EPA to share computing resources

The Energy Department and the Environmental Protection Agency yesterday announced an agreement to share their high-performance computers for research.

Energy secretary Spencer Abraham and EPA administrator Michael O. Leavitt signed the memorandum of understanding in a Washington ceremony. They said the arrangement will lead to better understanding of air-quality models and ecosystem health.

The agreement will link the supercomputers at EPA's National Computer Center in Research Triangle Park, N.C., and at Energy's Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, said Paul Gilman, EPA's assistant administrator for R&D.

Sandia's resources already have helped the environmental scientists halve the time to calculate a year's worth of predictions with the compute-intensive Community Multi-Scale Air Quality model, Gilman said. Shortening the calculation time even more will make state agencies more likely to use the model in setting and assessing their own air-quality goals.

Raymond L. Orbach, director of Energy's Office of Science, said the agreement gives EPA access to Energy's Joint Genome Institute, which has done key work in sequencing the human genome and the gene sequences of other organisms. EPA will also gain access to supercomputers at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center in Berkeley, Calif.

In turn, Energy researchers hope to tap EPA's expertise to study microbes that can consume carbon dioxide, produce hydrogen for fuel and reduce the toxicity of the waste sites for which Energy is responsible, Orbach said.

The memorandum of agreement, which has no fixed time limit, formalizes the collaboration among scientists from the two agencies, Gilman said.

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