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[Sandia Lab News]

Vol. 54, No. 21        October 18, 2002
[Sandia National Laboratories]

Albuquerque, New Mexico 87185-0165    ||   Livermore, California 94550-0969
Tonopah, Nevada; Nevada Test Site; Amarillo, Texas

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Labs' chem-bio foam goes to US Army Sandia develops new B61 trainer for military Glass research partnerships DOE, NNSA to fund MESA



US Army orders chem-bio decon formulation in deployment quantities

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By John German

A decontamination formulation developed at Sandia that renders harmless chemical and biological warfare agents has been selected for deployment by the US Army Central Command (CENTCOM).

CENTCOM, which coordinates overseas military actions, placed an order Sept. 25 with EnviroFoam Technologies, Inc. for tens of thousands of gallons of the company's EasyDECON solution. The exact quantity ordered is proprietary.

EnviroFoam is one of two US companies granted nonexclusive licenses to the formulation, under development at Sandia since 1997.

The formulation neutralizes both chemical and biological agents and is nontoxic, noncorrosive, and environmentally friendly. (For more, see http://www.sandia.gov/media/cbwfoam.htm.)

The Sandia formulation, on which EasyDECON is based, is proven effective against both biological and chemical agents, can be applied with current military hardware, causes no collateral damage (such as corrosion of equipment), and creates an effluent that can be washed down the drain.

The Army's order possibly signals a decision to start replacing DS2, CENTCOM's previous decontamination formula, for use "where the real potential exists for biological and chemical warfare," says EnviroFoam President and CEO Peter Beucher.

Because existing Army procedures and practices are based on DS2 liquid-spray approaches for decontamination, initial applications of EasyDECON will likely be as a liquid spray.

"Our entire team is extremely proud of the vote of confidence demonstrated with this first major acquisition of what we anticipate to be the next generation of decon materials," says Beucher. "It is rewarding to realize that American soldiers will finally have the protection afforded by this novel technology."

"It's gratifying that a DOE-sponsored effort to help the civilian community deal with terrorism will also play a key role in protecting our military," says Larry

Bustard, Manager of Chemical and Biological Technologies Dept. 6245. "Our team is very proud of the opportunity we have been provided to help protect the nation's security."

Versions of the Sandia formulation supplied both by EnviroFoam and Modec, the other Sandia licensee, were used to help clean up federal buildings in Washington, D.C., and TV network headquarters buildings in New York following the anthrax-letter mailings in October and November 2001.

The formulation was developed and refined by a team including Maher Tadros (16000), Mark Tucker, Cecilia Williams, Rita Betty, Paul Baca, Caroline Souza (all 6245), Joanne Paul (former Sandian), and Larry.

An ongoing Army-sponsored effort to investigate the extreme-environment impact on the formulation's performance is being supported by Gary Brown (6233), Danny Engler, and Mollye Wilson (both 6245). - - John German

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Labs-designed B61 weapons trainers being delivered to Air Force, NATO sites worldwide

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By John German

Improved trainers designed at Sandia to simulate the B61 Mods 3, 4, and 10 family of nuclear weapons have begun arriving at US air bases and NATO sites around the world for use by flight-line ground crews in practice drills.

In recent years weapon loading and handling crews have been unable to complete exercises meant to evaluate their abilities to safely move, inspect, hang from and connect to an aircraft, arm, disarm, and return to storage the B61 3s, 4s, and 10s -- versions of the B61 that are similar in appearance and function.

The primary reason, according to evaluators, was that the weapon trainers they were using were not similar-enough to real B61s to ensure the operations would occur smoothly and without error during a wartime scramble.

The previous trainers the military had been using for B61 3/4/10 exercises were originally designed to simulate, both mechanically and electronically, other versions of the B61 or were US Navy conventional bomb trainers retrofitted to look like B61s.

In 1997 the Air Force recommended that use of the old trainers be discontinued, noting that the makeshift mock-ups were hurting proficiency rather than helping.

In March 1998 the Air Force Nuclear and Counterproliferation Directorate (AF/XON) asked Sandia to create a new trainer that would mimic the B61 3, 4, and 10 and be unclassified.

By December 2001 the first six qualified B61-4 "Type 3E" trainers had rolled off the assembly line at DOE's Kansas City Plant and were delivered to the Air Force.

It is the first loading-and-handling weapon trainer specifically designed to simulate the B61 Mods 3/4/10.

Three new B61 Type 3Es are being delivered to the Air Force each month. The entire production run of 51 units should be completed by March 2003.

The new trainers incorporate refurbished or scrapped parts from excess B61 trainers as well as new materials and designs.

In some ways, the new Type 3E design had to be better than a War Reserve (WR) weapon, says Sandia project leader Beth Connors (2111).

A trainer is going to get used thousands of times, so it must be robust enough to endure flight-line conditions -- vibration, shock, temperature, humidity, and electromagnetic variability -- repeatedly over many years, she says.

A new process to inexpensively coat the Type 3E with a tough polyester powder coating rather than paint won a 2000 DOE Defense Programs Award of Excellence, she says, just one example of the added durability and cost effectiveness of the design.

Also, because the Type 3E is going to be "hooked up to a multimillion-dollar aircraft, we need to make sure our trainer cannot cause a problem on that aircraft, mechanically or electrically," she says.

As part of the trainer's aircraft compatibility and certification process, Sandia used F-111 and F-16 Aircraft Monitor and Control (AMAC) System simulators in the lab -- essentially "aircraft in a box" -- to simulate the electronic control system inputs of each type of aircraft and check the Type 3E's responses.

Each trainer is tested against a real F-111-type AMAC package as it rolls off the assembly line to ensure the trainers are working as designed. (Although the Air Force no longer uses the F-111 aircraft, it is representative of several relevant aircraft systems.)

Sandia also designed a suitcase-sized version of the Type 3E trainer itself (its electronic guts in compact form) and visited eight different Air Force bases and NATO sites, hooking the box up to actual aircraft.

All the Type 3E's system design, circuit design, software development, and systems integration was done at Sandia, says Beth.

An example: The Type 3E's SA3960 ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit), designed and produced at Sandia's Microelectronics Development Laboratory, was at the time the largest standard cell design fabricated at Sandia.

The project involved some 75 people currently or formerly in the following organizations (in numerical order): 10, 1733, 1734, 1735, 1737, 1811, 2000, 2100, 2102, 2105, 2111, 2112, 2113, 2115, 2116, 2331, 2332, 2613, 2662, 2912, 2913, 2991, 8205, 12125, 12316, 12323, 12326, 12335, 12336, and 14011.

"This project demonstrated the value of having such a vast collection of capabilities and resources under one roof," she says.

In addition, both NNSA/AL and US Air Force representatives played major roles in supporting the project in multiple areas, she says, including funding support, collection of assets, production, and logistics support.

"Everyone believed we were doing the right thing for the right reasons and wanted to see this project succeed," she says. "Their support was instrumental in the success of the project."

"It was very important to our customer to have a high-quality product in the field on time," says John Stichman, VP for Weapon Systems Div. 2000. "The team really came through. I am very proud of them." - - John German

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Review clarifies priorities for glass research partnerships

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By Nancy Garcia

The adage "waste not, want not" underlies research geared to increase efficiencies in one of the most energy-intensive manufacturing industries -- glassmaking.

In 1996, leaders in the glass industry partnered with DOEs Office of Industrial Technologies to foster the development and use of advanced technologies and processes. Researchers are investigating ways to sustain high-quality yield while decreasing energy use and protecting the environment.

About 70 glass-manufacture researchers from around the country recently met at the Sandia's Combustion Research Facility for the industry's sixth annual review of programs, in which projects significance to industry needs is assessed. In the future, greater emphasis will be focused on grand challenges and on crosscutting technologies, which will provide greater energy savings and synergies across multiple industries, said Elliott Levine, glass team leader in DOEs Office of Industrial Technologies.

Since 1998, glass companies have joined together through an umbrella organization, the Glass Manufacturing Industry Council (GMIC, www.gmic.org). The DOE began supporting small research projects at the national labs several years ago; the number has grown from three in FY00 to 12 in FY02, said GMIC executive director Michael Greenman.

Among the 17 talks were four presentations about work by Sandia CRF investigators and their industrial partners. Mark Allendorf (8361) and Jill Aaron of the Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries, Inc. discussed their studies to understand and optimize glass coatings. Pete Walsh (8361) described the conceptual design and engineering of a glass-melting laboratory proposed for the CRF. Mark also discussed modeling and analysis of corrosion affecting the longevity of glass-melting furnaces. Pete, meanwhile, presented a fourth project detailing studies of how combustion and chemistry variations affect both emissions and corrosion of a commercial glass-melting furnace operated by a major California wine producer.

Aaron pointed out that 110 million square feet of flat glass is coated each year -- mainly for low-emissivity and solar-control windows, but also for solar cells, computer screens, windshields, and photocopy machines. Most of the coating is produced by a process called chemical vapor deposition. Her three-year project with Mark is intended to identify a process design that would double the current efficiency. (The main issues are that only 11 percent of the chemicals are deposited, leading to some $23 million costs a year for waste disposal, and deposition defects lead to about 15 percent of the coated glass being discarded.)

Mark said that studies of the reacting flow of tin oxide, the main coating for flat glass (also used for containers), have led to real insight into how the reactions are occurring. The investigators have calculated accurate predictions of the chemical process for more than 75 different kinds of tin compounds, and will try to optimize process conditions using this knowledge (possibly through real-time, online process monitoring).

The work is significant, Mark said, because coated glass is a "very highly value-added product," and the results will be available to benefit the industry as a whole.

A proposed glass-melting laboratory at the CRF just completed engineering design. The lab's focus evolved in a 1999 survey of needs from glass quality to examination of heat transfer issues, Pete said. The DOE funded a conceptual design, and PPG contributed significant in-kind services to complete the engineering design.

As envisioned, the industrial research lab would produce up to 25 tons of glass a day in a 6-by-13-foot melting area. Advanced, noninvasive optical diagnostic equipment would be mounted to one side of the melting area, and more traditional sampling equipment would be deployed from the other side.

To build out, the lab would require just under an estimated $10 million, Pete said, and could deliver its first results to industry in 18 months.

The pilot-scale research lab would offer several benefits, Pete said. It could explore the use of oxygen firing, which has been adopted widely in the past decade for greater efficiency and reduced emissions (but which accelerates furnace corrosion). "The full potential of oxygen firing for increased efficiency and productivity in large furnaces has not yet been realized," he said.

The work on heat transfer could be carried over to industries such as aluminum, which also employs oxygen firing, thus benefiting other energy-intensive industries.

Oxygen firing was also a topic of investigation by Mark. Principal investigator George Pecoraro of PPG said in the first four years of the five-year project, they've been able to identify factors leading to corrosion and predict reaction rates.

"If you can put equations on anything as complicated as this," Pecoraro said, "you really start to understand it, and we've really been pleased with the work."

Mark said they've learned there are at least five processes contributing to corrosion of the brick ceilings of the glass-melting furnace. Corrosion is accelerated by the presence of water and sodium hydroxide above the melt (whose concentrations vary with temperature). The findings have been submitted to the Journal of Glass Science and Technology.

"We've learned it doesn't take much of a fluctuation (in sodium hydroxide) to either turn on, or turn off, corrosion," Mark said. The problem affects overall efficiencies, Pecoraro said, since faster corrosion leads to more frequent furnace rebuilds -- at a cost of about $10 million each time.

For slightly more than a year, several Sandians under Pete's guidance have been working with Gallo Glass to prototype diagnostic equipment for process control so emissions and corrosion will be lessened.

The equipment under investigation is a continuous monitor that detects metals in the flue gas. Field tests (two have been conducted so far for a total of 2.5 weeks) correlate the presence of metals such as sodium or potassium in the flue gas with overall observed efficiencies and operating conditions.

Based on the results of earlier work at Gallo Glass during 1997 and 1998, the researchers also developed a model to assess tradeoffs from

modifying operation to minimize development

of corrosive gases (such as sodium hydroxide) and thus reduce ceiling corrosion rates.

Pete has accepted a faculty position at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, so Linda Blevins (8361) will continue to oversee the remaining 18 months of this three-year research project. - - Nancy Garcia

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DOE, NNSA agree to pay $518.5 million bill for MESA . . . if . . .

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By Neal Singer

In the deliberately paced construction world of the gigantic MESA project -- Sandia's $462.5 million Microsystems and Engineering Science Applications center -- it's still midsummer in the baseball season as relatively small, hardly noticed achievements move the massive project along toward its own World Series of above-ground construction, equipment installation, and staffing.

In the latest mid-season step, according to MESA Program director Don Cook (1900), the DOE and NNSA have now agreed to pay the entire estimated cost of MESA, including an additional $56 million in operational costs -- but only after NNSA formally reviews MESA's completed baseline engineering-design plans and finds them feasible. Don expects this step to be completed in the next six months.

"With DOE approval, NNSA will pay the bill, the full bill -- but nothing greater than the bill -- in operating and construction costs," he says. "So it's important that our baseline cost projections are accurate. They have been independently reviewed for accuracy. If we overstep the baseline, we would be in fiscal hot water."

Don doesn't expect to exceed the baseline, because Sandia has a reputation for accurate assessments.

The project has already passed separate reviews of the conceptual design, project management, first stage of engineering design, and project cost estimate. "These steps reduce the possibility of buyer's remorse for DOE later along the construction trajectory," says Don. "That's a good thing. So when they come to us, our team never fears a question, we don't waffle, and we answer the question that was asked."

DOE's multistep funding procedure could be considered Byzantine in complexity or a careful, appropriate stewardship of the taxpayers' money. But if NNSA approves the baseline plans on schedule, Don predicts that Sandians will see the project's first building -- a microfabrication facility -- rise this fiscal year.

Power, communication, water, sewage, and other necessities are available from the project's already-buried utilities, completed last fiscal year.

MESA, under the overall direction of Tom Hunter, Senior VP for Information, Computation, and Engineering Science (9000), is expected to renovate Sandia's scientific equipment base, provide improved simulation and component fabrication capabilities for the nation's nuclear deterrent, as well as facilitate interactions among researchers at Sandia, universities, and industry -- Neal Singer

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Last modified: October 21, 2002


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