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We're using supercomputing to make travel more efficient and affordable

at one of the busiest airports in the world


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ABOUT


Athena is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national-lab led project aimed at improving the efficiency of transportation hubs through advanced high-performance computing.

Funded by the DOE Vehicle Technologies Office and industry, Athena is a collaborative effort led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Dallas-Fort Worth International (DFW) Airport.

U.S. Department of Energy logo
Dallas Fort Worth International Airport logo
North Central Texas Council of Governments logo
NREL logo
Oak Ridge National Laboratory logo

The Challenge


Airports are complex transportation hubs that coordinate the movement of passengers, goods, and services from the surrounding urban area. They need decision support and actionable insight to reduce uncertainty and mitigate risk for long-term planning.

The increased use of smart mobility technologies holds the promise of providing consumers and businesses with many benefits. However, the challenges of adapting complex transportation networks to rapidly evolving technology megatrends are significant. And poor planning or execution may result in increased energy use, costs, and system inefficiencies.

Eight men stand at an airport gate in discussion. Aircraft are visible through the window outside.

Our Approach


NREL and ORNL experts will leverage the powerful scientific computing capabilities at the labs to develop sophisticated models of current and future mobility requirements based on expanded mobility choices to and from transportation hubs, increased freight volume, and anticipated dynamics of airport access.

Athena will develop a "digital twin" model of DFW Airport with data from individuals, traffic, freight routes, flight schedules, autonomous vehicles, and other sources. Using data-driven statistical modeling and artificial intelligence, this model will simulate the impacts of future capacity expansion scenarios. It will also identify options that maximize the value of passenger and freight mobility per unit of energy, time, and/or cost.  

We expect our models and methodologies to be adaptable to other airports and transportation hubs across the country.

An airplane moves along a taxiway positioned on an overpass while several vehicles drive under. The airport light rail and air traffic control tower are visible in the background.

Potential Impact


Athena will use technology integration to help ports integrate and adapt to transformative technologies and understand their use to develop modern, efficient ports that can achieve ambitious energy goals.

The model results, combined with insights from the DFW Airport and its operating partners, will inform realistic recommendations for guiding long-term investments at the airport and other transportation hubs over the next 20 years.

By helping the nation's transportation hubs model possible future scenarios, these insights will help them navigate the rapidly emerging energy-efficient technologies that will change mobility plans for years to come.

A map of the United States labeled with the various ports, companies, and research institutes associated with the Athena project, categorized by primary research team, industry advisors, and technical advisory board.


News


Planes on a runway

Global Smart Airports Market Report Calls Out Athena Project

An overview of DFW Airport’s digital twin from the Athena project was featured in Insights from Smart Airports, the May 2020 market report by NACO, one of the world’s leading aviation consultancies.

Sharing Athena Insights Across the Department of Energy Complex

Athena's Lindy Williams presented at the 2020 Conference on Data Analysis about using machine-learning-enhanced modeling to accurately forecast airport traffic and congestion.

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Monte Lunacek Educates About the Value of Digital Twins

Athena's lead researcher Monte Lunacek presented on how digital twins can optimize airport operations during an Engineering News-Record webinar.

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Planes being loaded at the DFW International Airport

Sharing about Supercomputing Models in Washington, D.C.

Athena's Caleb Phillips is attending the ACRP Airport Terminals and Ground Access Committee meeting, where he's been invited to present about supercomputing models for advanced airport ground mobility.

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Publications

Learn more about Athena's latest research developments and outreach.


View Publications

Project Team


The primary Athena research team includes NREL, ORNL, DFW Airport, the North Texas Council of Governments, and the DFW Airport Clean Cities Coalition.

Regional stakeholders and data providers include American Airlines, Hitachi, Toyota, the Federal Aviation Administration, and NASA.

The project also involves a National Technical Advisory Board of multiple airports and ports, including Denver International Airport (DEN), the Port of Long Beach (POLB), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL), the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), and the Port of Seattle.

Caleb Phillips

Dr. Caleb Phillips

Project PI and Computational Data Scientist
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Dr. Mike Hilliard

Dr. Mike Hilliard

Complex Systems Modeling Team Lead
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Ken Kelly

Ken Kelly

Advanced Transportation Team Lead
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Dr. Monte Lunacek

Dr. Monte Lunacek

Data Science Team Lead
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Esther Chitsinde

Esther Chitsinde

Project Manager
Dallas Fort Worth Airport

Lori Clark

Lori Clark

Air Quality and Clean Cities Program Manager
North Central Texas Council of Governments

Matt Eash

Matt Eash

Data Systems Architect
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Karen Ficenec

Karen Ficenec

Data Scientist and Transportation Engineer
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Dr. Venu Garikapati

Dr. Venu Garikapati

Transportation Data Analytics
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Dr. Yanbo Ge

Dr. Yanbo Ge

Transportation and Data Modeling
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Robert Horton

Robert Horton

Vice President of Environmental Affairs
Dallas Fort Worth Airport

Dr. Yi Hou

Dr. Yi Hou

Transportation Data Scientist
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Andrew Kotz

Dr. Andrew Kotz

Commercial Vehicles Researcher
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Devonie McCamey

Devonie McCamey

Communications Strategy Lead
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

John Meissner

John Meissner

Partnering and Stakeholder Strategy Lead
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Dr. Hoony Park

Dr. Hoony Park

Computational Data Scientist
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Kris Russell

Kris Russell

Environmental Program Manager
Dallas Fort Worth Airport

Joseph Severino

Joseph Severino

Traffic Modeling and Analysis
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Devon Sigler

Dr. Devon Sigler

Applied Mathematician
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Dr. Juliette Ugirumurera

Dr. Juliette Ugirumurera

Traffic Equilibrium Modeling Lead
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Lindy Williams

Lindy Williams

Data Scientist and Statistician
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Dr. Stan Young

Dr. Stan Young

Transportation and Urban Scientist
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Sarah Ziomek

Sarah Ziomek

Sustainability Project Manager
Dallas Fort Worth Airport

Dr. Alec Biehl

Dr. Alec Biehl

Transportation and Mode Choice
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Dr. Qichao Wang

Dr. Qichao Wang

Optimization and Simulation
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Dr. Fei Xei

Dr. Fei Xie

Simulation and Mode Choice
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Dr. Shawn Ou

Dr. Shawn Ou

Simulation and Mode Choice
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Dr. Srinath Ravulaparthy

Dr. Srinath Ravulaparthy

Transportation and Mode Choice
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Dr. Zhaocai Liu

Dr. Zhaocai Liu

Optimization and Simulation
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Emily Harrell

Emily Harrell

Logistics and Project Management
National Renewable Energy Laboratory


Contact


For more information on Athena, contact athena.mobility@nrel.gov.