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[Sandia Lab News]

Vol. 53, No. 2        January 26, 2001
[Sandia National Laboratories]

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

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Energy and critical infrastructure

After 10 years of planning, design and construction, Sandia overpressurized a 1:4-scale model of a Japanese nuclear reactor pre-stressed concrete containment vessel to failure. The model, tested for the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Japan's Nuclear Power Electric Company, initially leaked at 2.5 times the design pressure before reaching a maximm pressure of 3.3 Pd. The data from almost 1,500 sensors will be used by an international team of experts as a benchmark for structural analysis codes and will aid the development of new state-of-the art accident response models. Mike Hessheimer, mhessh@sandia.gov

QUARTER-SCALE prestressed concrete containment vessel, overpressurized to failure as part of a test conducted by Sandia for the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Japanese nuclear power industry. (Photo by Randy Montoya)

The safety of high-power lithium-ion batteries, which will be used in hybrid electric vehicles and the NASA Space Shuttle, is of key importance. Thermal runaway in lithium-ion cells, if not controlled, can have serious safety implications. Our calorimetric studies have identified the mechanism of thermal runaway under abuse conditions. This improved understanding of the reaction sequence will enable researchers to investigate the chemical mechanisms responsible for thermal abuse intolerance, mitigate these effects, and substantially improve the operational safety of batteries for these applications. (2500, 1800.) Dan Doughty, dhdough@sandia.gov

Risk Informed Regulation: Many existing regulations governing design and operation of nuclear power plants in the US do not contribute to safety and reliability, which has resulted in unnecessary burden to plant operators and regulators. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is using risk-information to identify alternatives to existing regulations. The first step established a risk-informed framework for generating alternative regulations. The framework ensures that new regulations protect public health and safety by providing defense-in-depth measures that address the prevention and mitigation of risk-significant accidents. (6400) Jeff LaChance, jllacha@sandia.gov

Severe Accident Analysis: Department 6415 recently released version 1.8.5 of the MELCOR code, a software product developed for the NRC embodying more than 20 years of research into severe accident behavior. MELCOR models the progression of a severe accident in a nuclear power plant and potential release of fission products from the site. A significant advance over previous MELCOR releases, version 1.8.5 was distributed to more than 40 foreign and domestic users for application to plant safety and licensing studies around the world. (6400) Randy Gauntt, rogaunt@sandia.gov

Sandia fire safety research contributes to safer nuclear power plants and continues to receive industry and customer praise. Notable accomplishments this year under Nuclear Regulatory Commission sponsored programs include: assessing the impact of fire-induced cable faults on power, control and instrument circuits; review of world-wide nuclear plant fire events; and plant fire safety inspections. These efforts are supporting development of risk-informed regulatory standards and policy designed to maintain high levels of safety while eliminating requirements marginal to risk. (6400). Steve Nowlen, spnowle@sandia.gov

Over the past two years, we have conducted an extremely aggressive Sandia-led project to develop, integrate, and test a state-of-the-art dish/Stirling solar power generation system. We pulled together the "best-of-the-best" advanced technologies, and in November 1999, demonstrated unattended operation of the prototype system. The system has met all of its performance objectives and demonstrated to DOE that Sandia is second to none in the integration of solar thermal systems. We will field a second-generation system on an Indian reservation in the Southwest next year. (6200) Richard B. Diver, rbdiver@sandia.gov

Rock compaction resulting from oil production can cause severe borehole damage, sometimes resulting in expensive well abandonment and replacement drilling. Sandia scientists, with funding from DOE, Chevron, and Aera Energy, developed a methodology for understanding the failure potential of wells in diatomite reservoirs. The approach used 3D coupled reservoir flow - geomechanical simulations to predict the impact of different well drilling patterns and water flooding on well integrity in weak rock formations. The industry partners have incorporated the Sandia technique into their reservoir management practices. (6100, 9100) Joanne Fredrich, fredrich@sandia.gov

In October 2000, Sandia completed a two-year project with Lockheed Martin with the commissioning of a radioactive waste processing facility at the Zvezdochka Shipyard in Severodvinsk, Russia. A similar facility will be commissioned in June 2001 at the Zvezda Shipyard in Bolshoi Kamen, Russia. These facilities support Russian submarine dismantlement activities funded by the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). Sandia technical staff led the design, construction, and licensing activities. Lockheed Martin Energy Technologies, the prime contractor for this DTRA project, contacted Sandia in 1998 seeking its international radioactive waste management experience to accomplish this first-of-a-kind facility. (6800, 6400) Joe Jones, jojones@sandia.gov

Many Sandians have made significant contributions towards the completion of the Yucca Mountain Site Recommendation Consideration ReportThis report cumulates technical advancements in site characterization, performance assessment, and engineering design of Yucca Mountain. It will be given to the DOE Secretary for his/her consideration in recommending Yucca Mountain as a geologic disposal site for high-level radioactive waste. If the Secretary decides to recommend Yucca Mountain as a suitable site, a Site Recommendation will be sent to the President in 2001. (6800, 6100) Hong-Nian Jow, hjow@sandia.gov

A new way to safely, simply and effectively connect electricity-producing photovoltaic (PV) solar systems to utility company power grids has been developed. Several manufacturers have adapted it into their systems. This Underwriters Laboratories-certified control method automatically diverts or turns off electricity flow from grid-connected PV systems when an electric distribution line shuts down. Joe Tillerson, jrtille@sandia.gov

The Advanced Information System Lab (AISL) developed a radical and innovative new approach to computer security. It uses intelligent agents to implement a dynamic defense. It will have significant impact on Sandiašs national security mission and commercial value to the multi-billion dollar cybersecurity industry. The research team recognized the need for a paradigm shift in information security practices to meet the next generation internet security threats and developed Standard Agent Architecture II (SAAII)/Agent-in-a-box which incorporates several advances in state-of-the-art agent and information security domains. This research was funded by LDRD and DP funds. Reynold Tamashiro, rstamas.sandia.gov

Sandia recently completed a seminal report (NUREG/CR-6672) that provided much more accurate risk estimates of transporting spent nuclear fuel. The Sandia work is already being used to revise the Yucca Mountain Draft Environmental Impact Statement and will become a common reference for regulators, users, and the public. By matching accident statistics and accident conditions, and modeling cask and fuel response to those accident conditions, transportation accident dose risks were shown in NUREG/CR-6672 to be three to four orders of magnitude smaller than those in NRCšs current EIS for radioactive material transportation (NUREG-0170), which demonstrates that shipping spent nuclear fuel is very safe (6100). Ken B. Sorenson, kbsoren@sandia.gov

Emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) from fossil-fuel combustion dominate the atmospheric sulfur budget. In-situ SO2 measurements are required to address long-standing uncertainties about the influence of these emissions on local, regional, and global scales. Dahv Kliner and coworkers recently developed a laser-induced-fluorescence detection scheme for SO2 that has the requisite sensitivity (parts-per-trillion) for measurements throughout the atmosphere. They have constructed a prototype sensor, which has been used for ambient SO2 measurements, and are developing a compact ultraviolet laser system for use in field studies. (8300) Dahv Kliner, dakline@sandia.gov

Significant improvements have been made in our understanding of soot formation in diesel engines, the most efficient engine option available for transportation. Research has demonstrated that the amount of fuel-air premixing upstream of the initial flame location on a diesel spray plays a pivotal role in the amount of soot formed. The research is providing insight on how parameters such as injection pressure, orifice diameter, turbocharging, intercooling, etc., impact the soot formation in diesel engines and suggesting directions for reducing soot formation (8300). Dennis Siebers, siebers@sandia.gov

The 2001 American Physical Society Herbert P. Broida Prize has been awarded to David W. Chandler, Sandia National Laboratories, and Paul L. Houston, Cornell University, "for their critical contributions to the investigation of vibrationally and rotationally resolved molecular photodissociation and reaction dynamics, in particular for the invention and development of the photofragment ion imaging method." Ion imaging enables studies of the dynamics of photodissociation processes with a degree of detail unmatched by any other method. This technique has been adopted by laboratories world-wide since the first demonstration in Davešs lab in 1986. (8300) John Goldsmith, jgold@sandia.gov

Each year US industries spend enormous sums ($1 million/yr at a typical oil refinery) combatting gas leaks. To simplify leak detection, Sandia has developed a portable instrument that makes video movies of gas plumes. An infrared laser illuminates the scene and the gas becomes "visible" by absorbing the laser light. The small size was enabled using newly-developed laser materials and a high power fiber amplifier. The technology will be tested at a refinery in April and is being evaluated by the EPA (8300). Tom Kulp, tjkulp@sandia.gov

Last modified: January 31, 2001

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