Our stories, highlighting the value of HPC infrastructure and expertise in Belgium. f you want to share your story here, contact us!

Improving chocolate with supercomputing

Chocolate and supercomputing
Did you know that supercomputing is used to improve chocolate? Fermentation is the first step in the production of chocolate. In this process, the activity of microorganisms contributes to the chocolate’s taste. The Research Group of Industrial Microbiology and Food Biotechnology (IMDO) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel deals with the qualitative and quantitative study of fermented food systems using methodologies including next-generation DNA sequencing. This technology provides unseen possibilities to investigate microbiomes involved in food fermentation processes but also implies growing datasets and databases, which in turn results in more computational requirements. For IMDO, the need for increasing computational capacity meant an informative journey from using their own cluster to using the VSC Tier-1 infrastructure. 

User story: Outsmarting NP-hardness

Picture of warehouse
In a warehouse, orders have to be picked by order pickers. These order pickers have to visit the storage locations of the items on their pick list and retrieve the requested number of items. By combining similar orders on a single pick list, the travelling distance per order can be reduced. This increases efficiency and, thus, productivity.

User story : Mocking the universe

Simulated images of a galaxy by SKIRT
Galaxies are widely considered the basic building blocks of our Universe. Therefore, it is crucial to understand them to gain insight into the Universe. Cosmological hydrodynamic simulations are an increasingly popular method to study galaxy formation and evolution. In this user story Maarten Baes, prof. astrophysics at Ghent University explains how supercomputing is essential for their cosmological simulations.  

User story: Understanding how radio waves propagate in the head with Shamo

The effect of the application of a current by electrodes in a tDCS experiment
Martin Grignard (University of Liège) developed new simulation software, called Shamo. This package smoothly interfaces with existing tools to easily simulate the propagation of electromagnetic waves through the brain. Indeed, while this propagation is the basis of different medical techniques, interpreting the data correctly requires to take into account the complexity and uniqueness of each head.

User story: Predicting the climate in polar regions

Simulation of the flooding events
Xavier Fettweis (University of Liege) developed a regional climate MAR model. In this user story Xavier explains how this model can be used on the CECI’s and Cenaero supercomputers to study the changes due to global warming, a challenging topic with extremely important implications.

User story: Estimating air pollution in Belgium with high time and spatial resolution

High resolution ATMO-Street air quality map for Belgium for the annual mean nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentration in 2019.
Air pollution forms a threat to our health and environment. Thus, it is important that the quality of the air we breathe is closely monitored. In this user story Charlotte Vanpoucke and David Roet explain how the VSC HPC infrastructure is essential for the reporting of air quality for the whole of Belgium. The HPC infrastructure of the VSC makes it possible to accomplish the yearly calculations for the air quality maps within a week.