Sandia LabNews

Sandia, Los Alamos, NM Tech to team on 'energetic materials' research

Sandia, Los Alamos, NM Tech to team on ‘energetic materials’ research

Researchers in the technical security community often call them “energetic materials and devices.” The public calls them explosives and bombs. By any name, as the nation remains under the threat of terrorist attack, there is a growing urgency to develop advanced capabilities to identify, evaluate, test, and disarm such devices. At the same time, there has been a decline in recent years in research into the science of energetic materials, and a corresponding decrease in development of new energetic devices for both peaceful and military applications.

To address the immediate terrorist threat as well as the longer-term need to revitalize the nation’s energetic R&D activities, Sandia, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology are establishing the Center for Energetic Materials and Energetic Devices (CEMED). Officials from the three organizations this week were to sign a memorandum of understanding spelling out the scope of the new research center.

Each CEMED partner brings unique capabilities to the table. Sandia for more than 50 years has had as one of its core missions the design and production of advanced energetic devices and subsystems. CEMED projects will offer Sandia and its Regional Alliance for Manufacturing Program (RAMP) partners a chanced to stretch their manufacturing capabilities on high-consequence/low-volume systems and assemblies. Los Alamos brings to the new partnership a long history of developing and characterizing new energetic materials under normal and extreme conditions using sophisticated experimental diagnostics and accurate materials and test fabrication facilities. New Mexico Tech is the only US university to offer degrees in explosives engineering; it conducts research and testing related to energetic materials and explosives for industry and government agencies.

Customers for CEMED will include DOE, the departments of Defense, Justice, Homeland Security, and Agriculture, and other federal and state agencies with an interest in energetic materials and devices. In addition, the center will be a resource for US companies that develop, use, and manufacture energetic materials and devices. They include companies from various industry sectors including transportation, mining, oil and gas, automotive, and munitions manufacturers.

Initial projects CEMED is pursuing include developing energetic devices to help fight wild fires for the forest service and experimental tests to determine blast pressure and validate simulation models of building demolitions.

Key participants in the development of CEMED include, from Sandia, Bob Bickes (2523), Greg Scharrer (2553), Cesar Lombana (14011), Clint Atwood (1314), and Bill Alzheimer (Sandia emeritus). Also involved were, from Los Alamos, John Sanchez, and from New Mexico Tech, Jim Forster and Christa Hockensmith. Bill Alzheimer, former Sandia Director of Energy Components and Metrology, will be the Executive Director of CEMED.

Signatories to the MOU include Sandia VP for Manufacturing Systems, Science, and Technology Lenny Martinez, LANL Associate Laboratory Director for Weapons Physics Raymond Juzaitis, New Mexico Tech Director of Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center John Meason, and New Mexico Tech Acting VP for Administration and Finance Lonnie Marquez.