ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Three cooperative research and development agreements between Sandia and the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company are leading to better tires for Goodyear and improved methods for Sandia's national security work. Goodyear regards the cooperative work so highly that it has put $7 million into just one of the projects.
Dave Larson, manager of Sandia's National Security Partnerships Development Department, said the relationship with Goodyear progressed just as Department of Energy (DOE) and laboratory leaders envisioned when they shaped the government-industry partnership program, made possible by the 1989 National Competitiveness Technology Transfer Act (NCTTA).
As with many of Sandia's industrial partnerships, much of the Goodyear research is proprietary and protected under provisions of the NCTTA. But the general thrusts of the Goodyear CRADAs are no secret. They involve using advanced computational modeling tools and materials science experiments to develop better tires for Goodyear while improving applied mechanics simulation techniques used in Sandia's national security missions.
"For both Sandia and Goodyear, the research has resulted in a reduction of time and cost by allowing solutions with other computational methods to tire and weapons mechanics problems that were previously intractable," said Hal Morgan, manager of Sandia's Engineering and Manufacturing Mechanics Department.
Larson said these new solutions are useful in addressing design issues ranging from large-scale weapon component deformation during accidents to advanced earth penetrators.
Sandia and Goodyear researchers are developing and validating tools for finite-element analysis - a computer modeling technique for predicting thermal and mechanical responses of structures. These tools can be used to simulate and predict manufacturing elements such as shaping and curing processes, and performance characteristics such as rolling tire resistance and hydroplaning. By doing this, the new computational tools can reduce the need to build and test prototypes, which gets the tires to market sooner.
Under another Sandia-Goodyear CRADA, researchers are using a variety of analytical techniques, including neutron scattering, to study the structure and properties of various materials used in tire fabrication. They are gaining an understanding of the aging and reliability of elastomers and developing methods for predicting material lifetimes. They are also developing advanced materials with improved properties.
And a third Sandia-Goodyear project, also involving the use of finite-element models, is seeking ways to predict tire vibration for ride quality and noise applications. Goodyear also is commiting funds to Sandia for this work - $750,000 over a three-year period.
"In one three-year project, Goodyear is putting in $7 million - $4 million in funds to Sandia, $3 million in in-kind research by Goodyear - to DOE Defense Programs' $1 million," said Larson. "That is certainly a well-leveraged program for the government."
He said reaching that success from an even match of $3 million each from Defense Programs TTI (Technology Transfer Initiative) funds and Goodyear money required building trust and confidence in Sandia's ability to deliver.
A number of Goodyear executives and researchers also like the way the work has gone, including Nissim Calderon, Goodyear vice president of corporate research, who said, "You greatly enhance the chances of success by making it a win-win situation for both the lab and the company."
Explaining the dual benefits in algebraic terms, Calderon said, "Say Goodyear has a two-component project: A and B, while Sandia has another project characterized by A and C. Why not do A together and share the risk, share the effort, share the cost? And while we're at it, their scientists rub elbows with ours, and naturally they exchange expertise and suggest changes in current procedures, so the laboratory is also acting as a consultant."
Investment in the joint research with Sandia, he added, has allowed Goodyear access to "technologies that you can't buy any place."
Morgan said a major challenge in working with Goodyear was convincing their analysts and designers that the research would result in something that could be timely and beneficial. "It's often difficult to benefit quickly from research, but last summer we were able to deliver a modeling tool ahead of schedule that helped Goodyear designers respond to one of their important customers," he said.
DOE, seeing the advantage of this labs-industry work, has commited some $2 million to the research in FY97, said Bill Alzheimer, director of Sandia's Energy Components and Metrology Center, who has the responsibility for general oversight of all of Sandia's work with Goodyear.
"It's definitely a case of dual benefits for the government and industry," said Alzheimer. "Results of research from the finite-element analysis CRADA already have been incorporated into Sandia's design of neutron generators and have allowed us to use a Goodyear finite-element capability to look at reentry vehicle vibration, a capability we had been wanting to develop for years."
And research being done under the materials CRADA, particularly methods for predicting materials lifetimes, is synergistic with work being done to support Sandia's science-based stockpile stewardship mission.
Sandia National Laboratories is a multiprogram national laboratory operated by a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation for the U.S. Department of Energy. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has broad-based research and development programs contributing to national defense, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.
Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin Company, for the United States Department of Energy.
Howard Kercheval, email@example.com (505) 845-7078