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Materials Reliability Analysis

Sandia National Laboratories has the programmatic responsibility to determine the effects of processing and aging on the performance and reliability of nonnuclear portions of nuclear weapons in the enduring stockpile. It is the behavior of constituent materials that fundamentally establishes the performance and reliability of nonnuclear components. The microstructural mechanisms that underlie materials behavior must be understood and controlled through processing to ensure that as-fabricated products meet reliability requirements. Moreover, the materials aging mechanisms must be understood and quantified to provide the basis for predicting weapon reliability throughout their design lifetime. The materials understanding and reliability approach also has been applied to components in other high-consequence systems including aging aircraft and spacecraft, nuclear power plants, and delivery and control systems.

Materials Reliability Approach Materials reliability is defined as the probability that there is sufficient materials response available to meet demands of the system during all (e.g., operational, storage, transportation, etc.) conditions. This probability can be quantified by comparing the distribution of "available materials properties" to the distribution of "design requirements." The effects of aging can be incorporated into this approach by determining how the distribution of available materials properties changes as a function of time or environment. This approach provides the framework for evaluating the reliability of the full range of behavior (e.g., mechanical, electrical, magnetic) required for high-consequence systems to function properly.


Advanced Materials Laboratory
Materials reliability can be quantified by comparing the distribution of “available materials properties” to the distribution of “design requirements.”

Ongoing Materials Reliablility Studies From the thousands of materials and materials interfaces used in the nonnuclear portion of weapons, Sandia has used a risk-management approach to identify those materials and interfaces that must be understood more fully.
















Contacts: Jill Glass, (505) 845-8050,

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