Eni is putting its new supercomputing infrastructure to use in the fight against Covid-19 as the Italian major pairs up with European researchers to help combat the spread of the deadly disease.

The company has made its HPC5 supercomputer and its molecular modelling skills available as part of the European EXSCALATE4CoV project, which is aimed at identifying drugs to combat the coronavirus.

Eni in February unveiled the new supercomputer, a machine that supports the previous system (HPC4) by tripling computing power from 18 to 52 PetaFlop of power, which means it can carry out 52 million billion mathematical calculations per second.

Hunt for 'promising drugs'

The EXSCALATE4CoV project is led by Italian biopharmaceutical company Dompe and brings together institutions and research centres in Italy and other European countries to identify “the safest and most promising drugs in the fight against Covid-19”, Eni said.

Eni said it will contribute to the project in partnership with Cineca, a non-profit research consortium that works with universities, national research centres and the Italian Ministry of Education, University & Research.

The joint team will carry out dynamic molecular simulations of viral proteins relevant to the Covid-19 strain, to identify the most effective pharmaceutical components among the 10,000 present in the databases.

Research will then be carried out for new specific anti-viral molecules through the screening of billions of structures, Eni said.

'Challenge facing humanity'

"During a global emergency such as this, we must mobilise all available resources to overcome the challenges ahead. We are proud to contribute to finding solutions to this challenge facing humanity," Eni chief executive Claudio Descalzi said.

Eni’s supercomputer was designed to accelerate the company’s transformation in the energy transition and with the development of new energy sources.

“Eni’s Green Data Center, that houses all of the company’s supercomputing systems and data, has been developed to achieve world-leading energy efficiency results also thanks to the nearby photovoltaic plant that is partially powering HPC5,” the company added.

As part of its work to stop the spread of Covid-19, Eni has launched a series of initiatives to support those fighting on the frontline the pandemic in Italy. Total contributions to date have reached €35 million ($37 million).