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Sandia National Labs; New Mexico campus

Through the ESS Program, Sandia serves as an independent test facility for both industry and government, and has the staff and facilities to test and evaluate electrochemical power sources and distributed energy resources (DER).

Sandia can also design unique testers to meet custom specifications.

In addition to Sandia’s direct, DER-related facilities, the ESS Program has access to other, highly sophisticated Sandia departments, which include testing, analysis, basic materials development and processing, and complex modeling. Computerized environmental testing, (e.g., vibration, shock, or spin), abnormal testing, such as fire or crash, and safety testing are also available.

Almost 50 highly trained and experienced engineers, scientists, and technicians work in our well-equipped, state-of-the-art laboratories:

  • › 23,000 sq. ft. of research, development and testing laboratories that allow us to evaluate battery performance and support our comprehensive failure analysis and diagnostic capabilities
  • › Two dry rooms (3,500 sq. ft.) suitable for developing prototype batteries and with modest production capability
  • › Six test bays for abuse testing.

At Sandia, the ESS Program has designed and tested thermally-activated batteries, active and reserve ambient-temperature primary batteries, rechargeable batteries, and other power sources for specific ordnance, aerospace, and commercial applications. Commercial applications range from advanced batteries for electric vehicles and consumer use to large battery systems used by electric utilities for load leveling and other applications.

Sandia facilities can fabricate developmental and prototype thermal and ambient-temperature lithium batteries. The staff is experienced in processing electrochemical active materials and fabricating piece parts, and we build developmental batteries for evaluating new designs, plus the effects of material or process variations. DOE has approved Sandia as a back-up supplier of thermal batteries, and we have successfully used this capability. It stands ready if the need arises.

Sandia's Distributed Energy Technology Laboratory (DETL) tests techniques and technologies that will enable clean, reliable and abundant distributed energy generation and transmission, including extensive inverter test capability. The DETL is a fully instrumented, configurable, controlled, utility-interconnected test bed for study of a variety of issues that might be raised by utilities concerning the interactions of multiple, distributed sources of various technologies.

Currently, in partnership with electric utilities, Sandia is developing detailed utility modeling at the distribution level (~10kV), where new DER will have its most immediate effect. Models of power-electronics-based DER are also being developed to be compatible with the distribution system analysis tools presently used by utilities.

The behavior of DER when grid power is lost is a major concern for utilities. Sandia addressed this issue during the development of IEEE Std. 929-2000 "Recommended Practice for Utility Interface of Photovoltaic (PV) Systems". We provided laboratory test support for the development of this standard, which is being used by Underwriters Laboratory as a test protocol for "non-islanding inverters."

Sandia's extensive capabilities and facilities for evaluating government and commercial advances in battery performance and storage capabilities, plus DER applications, place our ESS Program in the forefront for addressing the ever-increasing importance of energy reliability on both the national and global fronts.