Sandia National Laboratories
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Sandia National Laboratories' Lurance Canyon Burn Facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico, provides a controlled environment in which to simulate transportation and handling accidents for nuclear safety studies and for evaluating and certifying hazardous material shipping containers.
The burn site has the following testing facilities.

  • The Fire Laboratory for Accreditation of Modeling by Experiment (FLAME)
  • Three open pools
  • A bunker-like structure called the igloo
  • A small, wind-shielded enclosure (SWISH)

The Fire Laboratory for Accreditation of Modeling by Experiment (FLAME) is an enclosed pool fire test facility designed to meet air quality regulations.
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It is used to support particle imaging velocimetry tests (PIV) for measurements in fire environments. PIV experiments use laser light scattering to image velocity fields in gaseous flows. The facility, a water-cooled building with up to 48,000 scfm forced air induction, contains a 3- by 3-meter pool in a 6-cubic-meter test chamber.


Open Pools

The three open pools are used to simulate liquid fuel fires. The largest pool is 10 by 20 meters. Its size can be reduced to any convenient dimension by using bunds.
The other two pools are 6 meters square and 5 meters in diameter. With ignited fuel floating on water, these pools are used for testing containers for certification, for fire structure research, and for soot reduction research.


The igloo is lined with insulation and is used primarily to simulate building fires. It is also used to simulate hot spots in weapons storage bunkers.


The SWISH, a 1.8-meter round pool enclosure, is used primarily for smoke reduction tests.
In addition, the SWISH offers:

  • Reduced potential for adverse wind effects
  • Water-cooled walls for proper temperature in the flame zone
  • Close-in diagnostics with flash or real-time radiography
  • Access from below the pool into the flame zone in the FLAME
  • Compliance with local air quality requirements

Other Testing Capabilities

Tests conducted at the Burn Facility also include rocket propellant fires and test units containing explosives.
The Burn Facility offers excellent data acquisition capabilities including up to 120 thermocouple channels. The facility also maintains a large database of fire temperatures and velocities and heat flux measurements on various test item sizes and shapes.

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The facility provides accurate monitoring and measurement of Temperature—using standard or specially designed sensors
  • Heat flux—using slug calorimeters and transpiration radiometers
  • Wind—speed and direction
  • Fuel recession—head and ultrasonic

Experienced engineers can aid in the design and evaluation process—whether it be fire modeling or test design.

Additional Information

The Lurance Canyon Burn Facility is close to Sandia's other testing sites and maintains a variety of data/instrumentation equipment. For shipping and travel purposes, the sites are conveniently located near Albuquerque International Airport and two interstate highways. Sandia can perform the complete tests from theoretical model development to execution and data analysis.

The Lurance Canyon Burn Facility can be configured to meet a wide variety of customer needs for fire testing.

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Randall D. Watkins
(505) 844-6526

Sylvia Gomez
(505) 845-3284