The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA, www.nasa.gov) awarded a team of researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST, www.nist.gov) 1 million central processing unit (CPU) hours on the Columbia supercomputer at the space agency”s Ames Research Center (www.arc.nasa.gov) to study the flow properties of “densely suspended, diversely sized and shaped materials.” The allocation is one of four awards of supercomputer time given in a peer-reviewed competition for “grand challenge” computational science projects led by researchers outside NASA.

The NIST team of William George, Judith Terrill, Nicos Martys, and Edward Garboczi will use the granted time to study, primarily, the flow of cement in concrete under a variety of conditions. Access to the NASA machine will allow computer modeling at a level and range impossible with existing facilities at NIST. The ability to better model real conditions is expected to significantly improve the scientific basis for prediction and measurement of the flow properties of concrete.