[About Sandia]
[Unique Solutions]
[Working With Us]
[Contacting Us]
[News Center]
[Search]
[Home]
[navigation panel]

[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

Back to Lab News Labs Accomplishments index

Nuclear Weapons

The conceptual design for Sandia's Microsystems and Engineering Sciences Applications (MESA) complex has been completed. This major piece of work was a substantial effort for many organizations across Sandia. The final Conceptual Design Report (CDR) was printed and distributed last May. The effort led to the authorization of funds to start the next phase (Title I/II Design) of the project. Completion of the CDR is enabling Sandia and DOE to make investments which will create technological capabilities to meet near-term and future mission needs for nuclear weapons. (1000, 2000, 6000, 7000, 9000, 10000) Don Cook, dlcook@sandia.gov



MINUTEMAN 2 BOOSTER launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., as part of the National Missile Defense initiative, in which Sandia provided target objects and other vital support.

The Advanced Firing & Detonation Systems and Microsystems Advanced & Exploratory (A&E) projects demonstrated a wide range of new technologies for future firing system applications in nuclear weapon refurbishment and DoD fuzing options. These included Surface Micromachine (SMM) and LIGA stronglinks, Direct Optical Initiation (DOI) firing sets and micro-DOI concepts, optical charging and triggering of Capacitive Discharge Units (CDUs), and several technologies necessary for microfiring sets. Several demonstration units were fabricated in partnership with the Kansas City plant. (2000, 2100, 2500, 1700, 1100, 1800, 8400) Larry Hostetler, ldhoste@sandia.gov

Working with our counterparts at the Kansas City plant we designed and built two versions of prototype firing sets for the W76 Arming, Fuzing, and Firing life extension program. Through the use of simulation and rapid prototyping tools and techniques, we were able to go from paper designs to hardware, demonstrating form, fit and function in less than a year. In addition, these tools allowed us to evaluate and solve a variety of design and manufacturing issues before the prototypes were fabricated. (2600) Jim Hole, jwhole@sandia.gov

After operating in a 30-plus year old pre-fab building for years, the construction concept for a new state-of-the-art facility for Sandia surveillance programs passed its final hurdle, the DOE External Review. Design for this $24 million facility will be done this year, with construction the following two years. Blending the best of the reshaped core surveillance and enhanced surveillance program, this modern facility that will begin to move the DOE toward a predictive capability. (2900, 7800, 9500) W. L. Norris, wlnorri@sandia.gov

Sandia's Military Liaison Department, in partnership with the DoD and the military, implemented an upgraded Unsatisfactory Reporting system for nuclear weapons, ancillary equipment, and publications. The system, known as the "Workflow Enabled UR System," has yielded dramatic improvement in tracking steps in the process and sped up the answer to the operational unit. DOE recognized this effort through the DOE AL Performance Excellence Award for the Weapons Surety Division's Weapons Logistics Quality Program (Silver Medal). (2900, 9500) J. Mike Rhoads, jmrhoad@sandia.gov

On September 22, 2000, the W76-0/Mk4 became the first enduring stockpile weapon to complete the DOE Seamless Safety Process for Disassembly & Inspection operations at the Pantex plant in Amarillo. The project included development of new tooling, new procedures, a Weapon Safety Specification, a Hazards Analysis, and hazards controls. DOE authorization for W76 operations makes it possible to conduct weapon surveillance assessments at Pantex, which provide essential information about weapon reliability and state-of-health. (2100, 1600, 8400, 12300) J. Paul Atencio, jpatenc@sandia.gov

The Nuclear Weapons Council has authorized initiation of the W76 Life Extension Project. Authorization was the culmination of a multiyear effort to assess the warhead state-of-health, develop refurbishment options, and generate management processes and plans to meet aggressive requirements. The conceptual design incorporates new performance options and challenges Sandia to implement technical innovation and employ new modeling and simulation tools. Key to winning authorization was our systematic scrutiny of requirements and design options, our plan to reuse selected components, incorporate high-grade commercial electronic parts, streamline production and qualification processes, and rigorously manage risk. (2100, 1700, 2300, 2500, 2600, 8400, 9100, 9800, 12300, 15300, and KCP) Patrick Sena, pasena@sandia.gov

A recent survey of the laboratory balance calibration process revealed that some calibrations being performed were technically inadequate, leading to questionable calibrations. The survey also showed that many balance users lacked proper training in the use of balances. The process was improved to assure technically adequate calibrations and a user training program was established assuring proper balance use. Customers are delighted with the process and now have confidence in the quality of the balance measurements they make using balances calibrated by the Primary Calibration Laboratory. (2500) Jim Simons, jmsimon@sandia.gov

Using modern predictive analyses coupled with limited field testing, the B61-11 ALT 349 weapon design was certified for stockpile use by Sandia and Los Alamos national labs. The final Design Review And Acceptance Group (DRAAG) meeting for the B61-11 ALT 349 was held in September at Sandia. The DRAAG wields the authority to accept/reject a weapon for use in the stockpile. The design was recommended for acceptance as a standard stockpile item by the DRAAG to the Nuclear Weapons Council Standing and Safety Committee in December 2000. (NW) Kevin R Eklund, kreklun@sandia.gov

The DOE National Nuclear Security Administration Office of Transportation Safeguards (OTS) must meet the highest security standards because its mission is critical to the continued effective operations of the nuclear weapons complex. Sandia was directly responsible for four of six mandatory milestones required to obtain acceptable OTS security ratings from DOE HQ, and ensure uninterrupted operation of the transportation fleet. All milestones were met, and the OTS security rating was upgraded. (NW) M. Brad Parks, mbparks@sandia.gov

The In-Ground Storage Vault (IGSV) was designed and constructed to provide high-security, temporary (two- year) storage for the Sandia Pulsed Reactor (SPR) fuel materials. This state-of-the-art facility yields annual security cost savings of approximately $6 million and is the first step in a comprehensive plan to insure that the SPR is available at a reasonable cost to meet essential nuclear weapons testing requirements. That plan will culminate in construction of a new high-security Sandia Underground Reactor Facility (SURF) to house future SPR operations. (6400, 5800, 7100, 7800) Kenneth Reil, koreil@sandia.gov

Reliability and data credibility probability analyses have been completed for the B61-7/11 and Redesigned W76 Type 2F telemetry systems. Both studies used a new methodology for estimating the reliability of commercial parts, as well as a software tool that allowed for examination of key contributors to unreliability. A report has been published documenting the results of these studies. In addition, a complete description of the general methodology for analyzing instrumentation systems (both reliability and data credibility) has been included in the study report. (8400, 12300) Rene Bierbaum, rlbierb@sandia.gov

A Sandia team in collaboration with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Lockheed Martin designed and flight tested a warhead concept under the Submarine-launched Warhead Protection Program ( SWPP). Warheads currently deployed by the US Navy were designed and certified prior to cessation of underground nuclear testing and the closure of major DOE weapon component facilities. The SWPP Pit Reuse Project investigated potential future replacement options. While no stockpile hardware is intended, the flight test exercised DOE/DoD interfaces and exposed new staff to this important national security mission. (2200, 2600, 8400) Bill Wilson, wgwilso@sandia.gov

Sandia contributed to the successful completion of the Phase 6.2/6.2A study for the W80 life extension program (LEP). The Nuclear Weapons Council accepted the recommendations provided by the study team and approved entry into Phase 6.3, with a first production unit date of February 2006. The W80 Phase 6.3 represents a significant effort for Sandia, requiring new designs for the entire warhead electrical system, neutron generators, gas transfer system, and several new mechanical structural components. (2100, 2200, 2300, 2600, 8400, 10100, 12300) Doug Gehmlich, dlgehml@sandia.gov

The W76 Joint Test Assembly telemetry system redesign was employed in a re-entry body, which was launched from a submarine in February 2000 as a "Follow-on CINC Evaluation Test." The flight resulted in a successfully scored weapon system test. Advancements in space radiation tolerance were proven, as was the efficacy of the Modular Telemetry Design Methodology as a design tool. An important first for this design was the digitization and transmission of neutron and firing system waveforms. This instrumentation system is significantly more complex, having ten times the data rate of the original, yet the production costs are significantly less. (8400, 2100) Art Hull, alhull@sandia.gov

Tech transfer comes full circle: Organic hydrogen getters, invented by Sandia to scavenge unwanted hydrogen in nuclear weapons have been reinvented, patented, and commercialized through a 100-percent funds-in cooperative research and development agreement with Vacuum Energy Inc. Sandia's hydrogen reduction technologies are now found in numerous consumer and industrial products. Millions of units have been purchased for products such as flashlights, refrigerators, and heat exchangers. The advanced getters created for consumer markets are now being certified for the shipment of radioactive materials within the Nuclear Weapons Complex. (8700, 6100) Tim Shepodd, tjshepo@sandia.gov

The Nuclear Weapons Strategic Business Unit (NW SBU) developed and deployed its Quality Management System and Policy for organizations that perform work for the SBU. The management system provides taxonomy for the SBU and its requirements, processes, and products and is based on ISO 9000, the nationally recognized set of Quality guidelines. The policy provides high-level direction for the SBU and internal requirements to support its advancement. Policies and Processes can be found from the Sandia homepage and the NW SBU button. (9000, 1000, 2000, 8000, 12300, 14000) Mark Dickinson, mddicki@sandia.gov

We have completed an assessment of Sandia's current and long-term equipment recapitalization needs for capital-intensive facilities that support the Defense Programs (DP) mission. A methodology was developed to assess needs based on different levels of potential future capability for each facility and to estimate the associated labor and expense costs for each level. Capital equipment investment at Sandia has declined dramatically since the 1980s. The study is intended to provide a starting basis for developing capital equipment strategies and priorities for future DP needs. (9800) Keith Almquist, kjalmqu@sandia.gov

The multidisciplinary MAVEN Fire Team demonstrated that laboratory-quality diagnostics, particle image velocimetry and planar laser-induced fluorescence could be brought into a field-test-scale facility and used to obtain velocity, temperature, and species concentration validation data. We completed a test series involving 42 experiments for a one-meter diameter flow for helium plumes and methane and hydrogen fires. Limited data analysis has been completed and compared with Large Eddy Simulation computations. These data will be applied to validate transport models in the FUEGO fire code. (9100, 6400) Gene Hertel, esherte@sandia.gov

The most detailed structural dynamic model validation experiments ever performed on a nuclear weapon system were completed this year on the W76/Mk4 Reentry Body (RB). These experiments successfully identified modes of vibration as high as 1,000 Hz for the RB and each major subassembly. The test series discovered significant unit to unit variability for frequencies above 1,000 Hz. Data gathered from multi-level shock and vibration inputs will be critical to the validation of high fidelity models that mimic the nonlinear behavior of real weapon structures. (9100, 2100) Randy Mayes, rlmayes@sandia.gov

The Security Matrix Project, jointly chartered by DoD's Office of the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Nuclear-Chemical-Biological)/Nuclear Matters and DOE's Defense Programs-20, provided an integrated assessment of weapon security and use control. Team members visited all US sites where weapons are held and conducted in-depth analyses of locations, weapon configurations, site infrastructure, and physical and operational security. The study played a significant role in the W80 Lifetime Extension Program and led to changes in Air Force security posture, Navy/Marine Corps security capabilities, and overall DoD security requirements (12300) Timothy Petersen, tppeter@sandia.gov

The W76 SLEP down-select for Phase 6.3 for the Navy Mk4A weapon systems occurred in July. A 12300 independent Weapon Assessment Team reviewed the warhead candidates for quality, reliability, nuclear safety, stockpile surveillance, and security/use control attributes and effectiveness. The Weapon Assessment Team confirmed the Preferred Option candidate, recommended by Div. 2000, as a viable design that enhanced reliability over the extended lifetime and afforded nuclear safety and significant use control enhancements to the present baseline W76 design. The selection of the Baseline Option was made with idea of a block upgrade approach, where the surety advantages of the Preferred option could be incorporated at a later date. (12300) Frederick Trussell, fgtruss@sandia.gov

In FY99, a new approach to evaluating weapon safety in thermal accidents was developed. This approach (the FINDV code) uses the ALASKA distributed computing platform to evaluate probabilistic weapon safety for a wide range of scenarios. Thermal responses are obtained using the COYOTE code. In FY00, this process was used to evaluate candidate design options for the W80 Lifetime Extension Program (LEP). A wide variety of engulfing, planar, and directed fire scenarios were evaluated and compared against similar results for the design currently in the stockpile. These comparisons showed that the downselected Option 3a conceptual design has significantly improved safety performance in the range of fire scenarios examined (12300) Michael Bohn, mpbohn@sandia.gov

The Purchased Material Team (PMT) was chartered by Neutron Generator (NG) Production Management to develop and implement an overall procurement process to ensure supplier quality for purchased neutron generator components. The team partnered with Honeywell's FM&T division, a proven leader in meeting and maintaining DOE requirements for supplier quality. FY00 metrics showed that the team's efforts led to significant improvements: PPA (percent parts accepted) from 80 percent to 96 percent and PATF (percent accepted trouble-free) from 62 percent to 86 percent. (14400, 10200) Lorraine Sena-Rondeau, lsenar@sandia.gov

The Manufacturing Development Engineering (MDE) program is a model for manufacturing low-volume, high reliability parts for the NWC. Since its inception in 1992, we have achieved mission assignment requirements of delivering more than 40,000 components needed for the enduring stockpile. More than 6,400 MDE parts were manufactured during FY00 by 12 private sector companies that have partnered with Sandia's design community in this critical nuclear weapons program. Products manufactured include: actuators, thermal batteries, igniters, gas generators, capacitors, magnetics, frequency devices, and electronic components. (1700, 2500, 14000, 10250) Eva Wilcox, ezwilco@sandia.go

The Manufacturing Development Engineering (MDE) department designed and tested a replacement digital ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) microcontroller used in a specific B61 configuration. During testing, a problem was discovered with the memory working at cold temperature. A failure analysis team worked for two months to pinpoint the problem. In order to best use materials, the wafer lots in process were stopped at the silicide stage (before metal contacts were made) to accommodate a change in metal routing. The fix was made and new masks were ordered to process the lots on hold. In November 2000 the design fix was proved. (1700) Tim Mirabal, mirabatj@sandia.gov

The In situ-Impregnated Gel Capacitor is being developed as the energy storage device in firing sets for several Stockpile Life Extension Programs (SLEPs). The gel/Mylar dielectric system results in a volume reduction greater than two when compared to the air/Mylar dielectric used in the majority of firing sets for the enduring stockpile. Further, a cost savings of almost an order of magnitude is realized when compared to older dielectric systems used in other stockpile weapons. The process has been successfully scaled up from 10 to 80 capacitors per run. (1700) L. Roger Edwards lredwar@sandia.gov

As the stockpile ages and electronic components show the first signs of degradation, the Manufacturing Development Engineering (MDE) department steps in to design and validate new War Reserve quality components that use technologies often many generations ahead of the old ones. These new technologies, once validated, are far more reliable and many times lighter and smaller. For example, last year MDE developed an analog application-specific integrated circuit used in an encryption translator. The chip-sized ASIC replaces a much larger printed-wiring board (PWB) that held individual electronic components. Besides much enhanced reliability, the new design results in space for other in situ testing systems. (1700) Donald Evans, dcevans@sandia.gov

A high voltage power transformer was developed for use in firing sets for several weapon systems in the enduring stockpile. The original transformers had relatively low yields due to cracked encapsulation around and in the core and/or separation between the contact assembly and encapsulation. The MDE program developed design improvements such as use of a stress barrier between the core and the epoxy encapsulant and elimination of the contact assembly. Transformers produced via this design are much more robust with respect to mechanical environments. More than 250 war reserve (WR) transformers with these design improvements have been successfully produced. (1700) Wendel Archer, wearche@sandia.gov

Sandia made significant contributions to the Nation's missile defense effort during the previous year in the areas of targets for system testing, lethality, threat and countermeasures, and navigation, guidance and control. We provided target objects for three National Missile Defense Integrated Flight Tests and two National Missile Defense Risk Reduction Flights. Sandia also provided high fidelity, scaled targets for lethality impact testing, and supported the analyses of the data from these tests with over 100 high-resolution hydrocode calculations. In addition, Sandia is providing the navigation, guidance and control system for the first two National Missile Defense interceptor prototype booster systems. Jerry Langheim, grlangh@sandia.gov

Last modified: January 31, 2001


Browse current and past Lab News articles

View Sandia news releases and fact sheets


Back to top of page

Questions and Comments || Acknowledgment and Disclaimer