Sandia News


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The launch of radioactive material into space requires launch approval from the president or his designee. Sandia is responsible for developing and writing the safety analysis report for that launch approval. In FY10, Sandia completed the report for the upcoming Mars Science Laboratory mission, which uses a 110-watt nuclear battery to power a Mars rover five times heavier than previous rovers. The report is being forwarded to DOE, NASA, and Office of Science Technology Policy for final launch approval. (6200) ECIS

A new solar collector alignment system improves the efficiency of solar plants. The truck-mounted system consists of a boom with multiple cameras that photograph the collector troughs. The boom is attached to a multi-axis platform that aligns the boom to each trough as the truck drives down a row. The collected images are analyzed to determine shimming parameters for trough alignment. The Satellite Mechanical Design Department, in collaboration with the Geothermal Research Department, led the mechanical design of the alignment system for Sandia’s solar programs. (2600, 6900) ECIS

Sandia computational scientists played pivotal roles in developing the successful proposal for DOE’s five-year, $122 million Energy Innovation Hub for Nuclear Energy Modeling and Simulation, Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors (CASL). Sandia researchers are now leading CASL efforts in multiphysics coupling, verification and validation, and uncertainty quantification to create a state-of-the-art “virtual reactor” incorporating many Sandia-developed computational technologies. This virtual reactor will run on the world’s most powerful computers to enable significant leaps forward in nuclear reactor design, engineering, and operation. (1400, 1500, 1800, 6700) ECIS

Sandia has demonstrated the potential for small active aerodynamics load control (AALC) devices to lower the cost of energy for wind systems and enable future industry growth. Leveraging Sandia’s diverse capabilities in blade technology, controls, sensors, and modeling, three 9-meter test blades were built with AALC devices and extensive sensor arrays. R&D test results show improved system efficiency and reduced fatigue loading on blades and gearbox components. AALC devices are projected to reduce the cost of wind-generated energy by at least 5 percent. (6100) ECIS

Engine combustion researchers from the Combustion Research Facility have employed a two-photon laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) technique to image the spatial distributions of unburned hydrocarbons (UHC) and carbon monoxide (CO) in the cylinder of an operating diesel engine. These species represent the products of incomplete combustion, and prevent low-temperature diesel combustion systems from realizing their full CO2 emission reduction potential. The measurements have resulted in improved reduced kinetic mechanisms employed to simulate engine combustion. Additional work is needed to accurately model fuel-air mixing processes. (8300) ECIS

Ionic liquids (ILs) are of interest as a new solvent for the pretreatment of biomass. The realization of an economically viable pretreatment technology employing ionic liquids requires the nearly complete conversion of biomass into its component sugars and recycling of the ionic liquid solvent. HCl catalysis of switchgrass dissolved in the ionic liquid (C2mim) Cl and recovered more than 90 percent of the total sugars available. This patent-pending IL treatment process may eliminate the need for enzymes altogether, and could potentially provide a scalable and economical route to the production of biofuels. (8600) ECIS

A new 8400-square-foot Combustion Research Computational and Visualization facility was built to accelerate the realization of predictive modeling and simulation for combustion processes. Funded jointly by the DOE Offices of Science (SC) and Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), it provides interactive data visualization and modern collaborative workspaces, as well as dedicated computer hardware space. It includes many sustainable and energy efficient features, and was submitted to the National Green Building Council for LEED certification. Construction activities were completed ahead of schedule. (8500, 8300) ECIS

Sandia was selected as the assistant technical manager and lead systems engineer in a three-year, $42 million, DoD Joint Capabilities Technology Demonstration titled Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security (SPIDERS). SPIDERS will demonstrate secure microgrid implementations, based on Sandia’s Energy Surety Microgrid concepts, at three military installations. These microgrids will provide electric power to mission- critical assets in the event of an electric utility disruption. SPIDERS is the first collaborative project under a recently signed DoD-DOE memorandum of understanding in energy security. (6100) ECIS

Each citation is followed by the center numbers of centers that contributed most directly to the effort described. An acronym after each accomplishment indicates which of Sandia’s strategic management units (SMUs) or strategic management groups (SMGs) the work most directly supported.

The SMG/SMU acronyms are:

  • NW: Nuclear Weapons SMG & SMU
  • DS & A: Defense Systems & Assessments SMU
  • IHNS: International, Homeland, and Nuclear Security SMU
  • ECIS: Energy, Climate, and Infrastructure SMU
  • IES: Integrated Enabling Services SMU
  • SPP: Sandia Partnership Projects