Technology Transfer Opportunities – Sandia



Final Report

Technology Transfer Opportunities in the National Laboratories

Sandia National Laboratories

Albuquerque, New Mexico

& Livermore, CA

July 1995

Prepared for:

Utility Federal Technology Opportunities (UFTO)


Edward Beardsworth



This report is part of a series examining technology opportunities at National Laboratories of possible interest to electric utilities




1. Summary
1. Sandia Organization
2. Sandia Technologies & Programs
11. Sandia Contacts


This report is proprietary and confidential. It is for internal use by personnel of companies that are subscribers in the UFTO multi-client program. It is not to be otherwise copied or distributed except as authorized in writing.



This report details findings about technology and technology transfer opportunities at the Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia) that might be of strategic interest to electric utilities. It is based on visits to Sandia in March 1995, as part of the UFTO multiclient project.


Noting the tremendous scope of research underway in the research facilities of the U.S. government, and a very strong impetus on the government’s part to foster commercial partnering with industry and applications of the technology it has developed, the UFTO program has been established as a multi-client study of the opportunities thus afforded electric utilities.

Sandia Organization

Sandia began in 1945 as a small part of Los Alamos Laboratory, and in 1949 became a separate laboratory managed by AT&T. (The University of California, which manages Los Alamos, did not want to become involved in the actual manufacture of weapons.) Due to AT&T’s culture and management approach, Sandia grew up with an organizational style similar to Bell Labs, and quite different from the other national labs. There is a line management structure, and from the beginning, a strong “industrial R&D” approach that emphasizes practical results and getting them into use.

AT&T has managed Sandia (as a public service, for $1 per year) from 1949 until 1993, when Martin Marietta won the bid to take over. Martin (now Lockheed Martin) has a subsidiary company called Sandia Corporation that manages the laboratory (similar to the arrangement at ORNL and INEL).

Sandia is located on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, and at Livermore California (across the street from L. Livermore National Lab). Total staff number about 8500 people, with about 1000 in California. About 60% of the staff are in technical and scientific positions.

Managers of “directorates” or “centers” have a fair degree of autonomy, and report up to a “sector” vice president level which in turn report to Al Narath, the president and lab director.

The sectors include:

Defense Programs (the largest), which does engineering and design for weapons systems,

Energy & Environment, led by Dan Hartley, deals with all other areas of the Dept. of Energy, with programs in Applied Energy, Nuclear Waste Management, Environment, Nuclear Energy, and Energy Research.

Work for Others (other government agencies) also known as Systems Applications and Research & Exploratory Technology

Sandia has specific major cross-cutting initiatives in agile manufacturing, electronics, and advanced information processing.

A general point of information: each lab annually publishes an “Institutional Plan”, which is organized according to which DOE Program Office supports the work, not the lab’s own organizational structure. Thus a “mapping” between the two structures is required to be able to see the work of the groups within a lab.

Sandia Technologies & Programs


Covered in this section:

  • Combustion Research
  • Advanced Batteries and SupercapacitorsUtility Batteries/Storage/UBG
  • Renewables
  • Fuel Cells
  • Robotics
  • High Consequence Operations
  • High Performance Computing
  • Distributed Information Technologies (NII)
  • Sensors
  • Materials
  • Reliability/Decision Making
  • Micro SMES
  • HyMelt
  • High power switching

General Telephone # is (501) 844-5678
In Livermore, CA (510) 294-3000

Programs of greatest direct applicability to utilities are in the:
Applied Energy Program Dan E. Arvizu, Director 505-845-8336


Three major program areas:

1. Renewable Energy: solar thermal, PV, wind, geothermal, biomass

2. Energy Efficiency: utility energy management, materials & manufacturing processes, combustion technologies, transportation batteries, superconductivity

3. Fossil Energy: coal combustion, oil & gas production, strategic petroleum reserve
Industry collaborations involve many electric utility companies and manufacturers.

• Combustion Research Don Hardesty, Manager, Combustion Research 510-294-2321

Charles M. Hartwig 510-294-3047

Over 1000 Sandia employees are located in facilities in Livermore California, and operate several special facilities, one of which is the Combustion Research Facility, the only one of its kind in DOE. Can handle industrial scale burners to 3 million BTU/hour. It is a “user facility” and outside visitors and users are encouraged. Partnerships with industry include GM, Cummins and Beckman Instruments and many others. Developed a number of specialized flame/combustion observational, measurement and diagnostic techniques. Provided fuel blending strategies to midwest utilities to meet SOx requirements.

The Burner Engineering Research Laboratory is a user facility for industrial burner manufacturers, is booked for a year in advance. Wide range of studies include air toxics modeling

NOx program addresses measurement and prediction of NO formation in turbulent flames.

Sensors for steel industry for in situ measurement of CO and CO2 in furnaces.

Combustion properties of biomass derived fuels and char.

Laser and remote atmospheric sensing (invented Lidar).

The Engine Combustion Technology Program involves all the major car and engine makers, universities and other labs.

In Hydrogen, work in progress on combustion, engines, storage, and hydrides.

Publications: CRF News published bimonthly. Contact William J. MacLean, 510-294-2687


• Advanced Batteries and Supercapacitors

Electrochemical R&D for DOE is longstanding and diverse, meeting many needs for high quality and reliable systems for weapons programs, and working at the forefront in many nonweapons areas of technology. Lawrence Berkeley Lab is well known for fundamental research, and Sandia for devices, having supplied all the power supplies for nuclear weapons systems since the 1950s.

Until a reorganization on July 1, Sandia’s work in battery technology was part of a larger activity called the “Electronic Components Center”, which includes microelectronics, modules, optoelectronics, components and reliability. Full fabrication capability. [This Center could be a valuable resource for a utility’s customers in these industries. Ray Bair, Director, 505-844-1912.]

Battery programs now reside in the “Energy Components Center” (Joan Woodard, Director 505-845-9917) along with work in explosives and neutron generators, though personnel will continue their close coordination with the Electronics Center.

There are four battery development groups at Sandia, each with a different emphasis, but closely interrelated. The department heads form a coordinating team.

Dan Doughty Battery Programs 505-845-8105

Ken Grothaus Battery Research 505-844-1654

Dennis Mitchell Battery Development 505-844-8656

Paul Butler Testing Program 505-844-7874

(Full range of performance, abuse, failure, and qualification testing. Extensive facilities.)


– Work in Zinc/Silver Oxide, Sodium Sulfur, Zinc Air, Zinc Bromine, Advanced Lead Acid, Nickel Hydrogen, Nickel Cadmium, Lithium/Sulfur Dioxide, Supercapacitors

– USABC CRADA, with automakers, lithium rechargeable battery development and testing

– Implantable long life battery development for medical application

– Battery Technology Initiative — funds-in CRADA with 4 companies for consumer batteries

– Ultracapacitor — thin film to get 1000 F in a D cell.

– Reserve Batteries — primary energy sources; one-shot devices activated by external means. For weapons systems; not likely to have commercial application.


• Utility Battery Storage Program Paul Butler, 505-844-7874 Abbas Akhil, 505-844-3353

Battery technology development (Pb-acid with GNB, Sodium sulfur with Silent Power, etc.), modular systems (AC Battery/Delco), systems studies (SDG&E, Chugach, Oglethorpe, BPA), feasibility studies (SMUD, Chugach), test & demos (PG&E, Metlakatla Alaska, PREPA) subsystems engineering, integration, industry outreach.

Strictly electric power industry oriented. About half of budget goes to industry in heavily cost shared projects. Sandia sees utility applications as being very nearly ready for take off. (Phase 2 of “Opportunities” project just getting underway–needs industry participation! Phase 1 report available from Paul Butler.) Broad view of potential emphasizes T&D benefits, DSM and UPS/Power Quality applications, which don’t require very large scale demos. Problems with large scale installations leading to new approach to do smaller units that are flexible or transportable. More of a T&D asset like a transformer. Puerto Rico’s experience with 20 MW unit has them convinced to meet their estimated need of 100 MW with turnkey units.


Provide support to the Utility Battery Group (UBG)

[An excellent and very cost effective way for utilities to stay abreast of developments; controlled by its utility members Many UFTO members already active. Contact Rick Winters, UBG chairman (PG&E/Endicon) 510-867-0904, or Paula Taylor, Energetics, 410-290-0370.]

• Renewables Paul Klimas, Manager, Renewable Energy Office, 505-844-8159

Sandia’s goal is to develop commercially viable energy technologies based on solar, wind and geothermal resources so they beocme significant domestic and international supplies. They have a long-term focus on the utility sector, expecting remote markets to play a key role in supporting the industry.

Photovoltaics Marjorie Tatro 505-844-3154

Activities in all aspects, from cell development to system applications. Work closely with industry on technology development for crystalline silicon cells and modules and other systems components (e.g. inverters, battery charge controllers and controls), and with the systems integration industry and users through the PV Design Assistance Center. The Center did a thorough evaluation of existing installations and identified new opportunities for the National Park Service. They have an extensive publications list (including some on utility interconnection issues), and provide support to project developers here and abroad.

In the past, Sandia had a number of partnerships under an initiative on concentrators, but chose not to support this work when funding levels were reduced in 1993. The only concentrator effort funded through FY94 was the low concentration line focus concept advanced by SEA Corp.

In one-sun cell development, Sandia emphasizes crystalline silicon, working on cell designs and processes. (NREL tends to be more involved in advanced materials and thin film.) Sandia believes their broad resources in manufacturing are valuable, bringing optimized high temperature processes, surface treatments and reduced waste streams to the manufacturers of cells.
Solar Thermal Craig Tyner 505-844-3340

Manage the conversion of Solar One (still operational!) to Solar Two. IR 100 awards for Solar Detox and Dish-Stirling. $150 million jointly funded program with utilities and manufacturers on Dish Stirling engines (Cummins 7 kW remote power unit is making good progress, and there are two other larger system efforts, both with utility involvement). (“Compendium of Solar Dish/Stirling Technology”, SAN93-7026 Printed Jan. 1994, by W.B. Stine and R.B. Diver, a new report surveys international state of the art.)

The National Solar Thermal Test Facility has an array of heliostat, dish and trough systems for running tests of various kinds.

The Solar Thermal Design Assistance Center provides technical assistance, helping clients select and apply solar thermal technology. (Contact David Menicucci, 505-844-3077).
Wind Henry Dodd, 505-844-5253

Historically, Sandia’s emphasis was on the vertical axis concept, however they have a new initiative to approach wind with a systems view, and have worked on materials and blade design improvements for all wind machines.
Geothermal Jim Dunn, 505-844-4715

Working to reduce costs — developing down hole instrumentation to reduce loss circulation, and”slim-hole” technology that could cut cost of drilling by 1/2 (appropriate for remote village applications). Also working on geothermal ground source heat pump concept (drilling, placement and heat exchanger design). Helped commercialize new drill bit.
• Fuel Cells Gary Carlson, Manager, Fuel Science Dept. 505-844-8116

This is a small program, using most internal lab directed funds, except for work for the DOE Office of Transportation Technology on advanced concepts. Goal is to develop partnerships with industry, and capitalize on Sandia’s capabilities in batteries, catalysis, and especially manufacturability. Note need for better materials to get long term performance. Sandia/Livermore is doing some work in PEM thin films, applying membrane supported catalysis to enable on board hydrogen production.


They see special opportunity to develop a small fuel cell (less than 1 KW) for remote applications, to compete with PV and batteries. One application could be gas pipeline condition monitoring.

Sandia has a broad capability to tailor properties of carbon foams, as applied to supercapacitors, advanced (Li) batteries, and fuel cells.


• Robotics Sandia Intelligent Systems and Robotics Center, Phil Bennet, 505-845-8777

Sandia is at the forefront of bringing defense and weapons related “Intelligent Systems and Robotics” to bear on commercial needs, and has grown to be the leading robotics R&D effort in the U.S. They focus on critical national needs (hazardous waste clean up and manufacturing competitiveness), reducing the time and cost to develop applications of advanced technology into practical systems, and improving the speed, quality and safety of operations. There is a strong emphasis on working with industry, universities and other government facilities.

Their approach is based on an open-architecture communications-based integration of sensors, mechanisms and software. Computer-model and realtime sensor-based control strategies make off-line programming possible, speeding the development of applications and systems.

Historically, DOE’s internal need for systems to handle small production lots led to the development of ways to reduce the costs of programming and fixturing.

Specific projects relevant to utilities include robotic welding of spent fuel barrels, saving on the order of $250 million and thousands of man rems of exposure. Another involves hot repairs to boilers — in fossil plants (proprietary — with an unnamed utility)!

This Center is clearly a potentially valuable resource for automating utility operations, as well as for industrial customers who develop or use robotics. A good overview is contained in a booklet called “Sandia is Changing the Way the U.S. Does Robotics.” Sandia staff have also authored a number of papers at robotics conferences.


• High Consequence Operations Russ Skocypec, 505-845-8838

Sandia’s Engineering Sciences Center encompasses computation, testing, and validation, enabling design trade-offs to be confidently evaluated. Evolving from a historical mission to support systems design and safety for nuclear munitions, they now can offer industry a means to quantify efficiency and safety issues pertaining to industrial accident phenomenology. Detailed risk assessment and coupled analysis and testing provide understanding of the physics of fires, crashes and blasts, enabling better decisions about prevention and response.


• High Performance Computing Sudip Dosanjh, 505-845-7018

DOE operates the Massively Parallel Computing Research Laboratory (MPCRL) at Sandia, which applies these new levels of computing power to a broad array of scientific and engineering problems, ranging from structural mechanics and acoustics to chemical reaction dynamics, genome mapping and astrophysics. In the last 4 years alone, the computational speeds have increased by a factor of 100. In collaboration with the University of New Mexico, Sandia has developed a unique operating system called SUNMOS, and their own linear equation problem solver gives them powerful capabilities in parallel computing.

A newletter called the MPCRL Research Bulletin is available.

[Perhaps a place to try some new approaches in power system modeling? Particularly in connection with the next item.]


• Distributed Information Technologies,

Rich Palmer, Manager, California Program Development, 510-294-13126

Sandia has a major role in developing technologies for distributed information systems that will contribute to building the “National Information Infrastructure.” Industry has needs similar to DOE’s Defense Programs to use cost-effective distributed information systems to access and process information. The issues are the same: manipulating large data sets, moving them around efficiently, and dealing with privacy and security issues. DOE labs have developed synthetic data sets as benchmarks for participants to perform their own validations and comparisons. The goal is to be able to run problems on very large parallel or distributed systems via high-speed networks.

Sandia has also built extensive testbeds to develop and evaluate distributed applications over Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) networks tying together distributed computing resources. The testbeds include long-link emulators that simulate delays and errors encountered in wide-area networks over large distances. To complement those testbeds, Sandia has also developed a Monte-Carlo simulation based modeling capability for studying realistic network component performance and issues such as congestion control mechanisms for large networks. By including the proper physical representations of traffic models for sources and sink, the same modeling capability could by used to simulate the performance, utilization, and potential overload of wide-area electrical transmission grids.


• Sensors Marion Scott, Manager, Sensor Programs Dept., 505-845-8146

Sandia’s work in microsensor development includes acoustic, micro machine/micro electronics, fiber optics, and micro impedance techniques. They have their own complete CMOS IC fabrication capability in-house, as well as for gallium arsenide, enabling them to undertake unique development challenges, such as combining micro machined structures and associated electronics on an IC.

– A bulk quartz resonator can look at the condition of oil in situ. Other possible applications–monitor the state of charge of a Pb acid battery or the capacity of coolants.

– Surface acoustic wave devices coated with chemically sensitive films can sense chemical species in gas at parts per million by looking at resonance changes. With multiple coatings and using pattern recognition techniques it’s possible to distinguish multiple species. Has been packaged in a down hole tool for pollutant sensing.

-Hydrogen sensor on a chip uses special alloys that change their resistivity with maximum sensitivity to H2 concentration.

– Fiber optics offer another technique to sense a wide range of chemicals, such as hydrogen, mercury, SO2, chlorine, and various oxidants. The end of the fiber is coated with a thin chemically sensitive film that changes its reflectivity. CRADA underway with the JW Harley & Assoc to develop a H2 sensor for utility transformers.

– Micro impedance and capacitive sensors can measure physical features for manufacturing applications, e.g. detecting surface flaws in real time. This has been applied to textiles.

– Accelerometers measure vibration indicating structural changes. Sandia has developed a fiber optic/micro machine hybrid device.

• Materials Jim Jellison, Manager, Technical Business Operations,
Materials & Process Sciences, 505-844-6397

Sandia’s Materials Science and Technology program has 600 staff, and is the largest in DOE. Originally developed to provide non-nuclear components for weapons, it now offers services to a wide range of government customers and private industry. The forte is concurent design of the product and the process to make it.

Expertise includes welding, especially cold welding, and soldering; mechanics; tribology, especially lubricant free, with a focus in electromechanical devices; corrosion, emphasis on electronics (e.g., fluxes on circuits, dissimilar metals, batteries); corrosion kinetics, atmospheric testing facility (sensitivities in ppb); aluminum coatings–developing replacement process with less environmental impact; laser surface ablation.

Smart Processes — predictive models using phenomenological data enhances casting, heat treatment, welding, induction heating, etc.

Aging of organic/polymer materials-accurately accelerated aging tests. Applied to electrical cable in work for the NRC

• Reliability/Decision Making

Robert Cranwell, Manufacturing Systems Reliability, (505)844-8368

Industry and the nuclear weapons complex (NWC) rely upon the availability and reliability of equipment which can greatly influence operational costs. Equipment design, reliability, maintenance strategies, and spares inventories all contribute to the cost-of-ownership of factory or plant equipment. Sandia has developed capabilities to assist industry and the NWC in “design for reliability”, equipment improvement analyses, creation of maintenance strategies, and optimization of spares inventories. These capabilities have been broadly applied throughout industry, including the U.S. semiconductor industry, biomedical industry, machine tool industry, automotive and aircraft manufacturing industries, and solar power industry. The capabilities include custom reliability analysis software, optimization analysis techniques, predictive maintenance capabilities, and cost-of-ownership analysis tools. Key partners include SEMATECH and several of its member companies, Cincinnati Milacron, McDonnell Douglas, and USCAR (a consortia of the “big three” auto makers).

Sandia has been working with several major companies, including Motorola and Texas Instruments, to evaluate and qualify new environmentally conscious “no clean” soldering technologies that do not require subsequent cleaning of newly soldered printed wiring assemblies. These new processes are being used extensively throughout industry with great success (Two reports, 11/92 and 6/95, describing these efforts have been issued.)

The Energy Analysis Diagnostic Center (EADC) is a DOE/Office of Industrial Technology program at 30 universities around the U.S., which perform energy audits of companies. In conjunction with this program, Sandia is working with two of the NIST Manufacturing Technology Centers (MTCs) to develop an integrated energy, environment and manufacturing (EEM) assessment tool, the concept being that these three areas (energy, environment, and manufacturing) need to be assessed on an integrated basis, as an attempt to optimize in one area could cause problems in the others. This integrated tool would be used by MTC field agents to assist U.S. manufacturers in EEM related issues, and is being piloted in SIC codes 345, 346 and 347 (screw machines, stampings and forging and metal coating). The Sandia/MTC program is jointly funded by EPRI, NIST, EPA, DOE/OIT, and Sandia.

Follow-on opportunities are needed.

Detailed briefings or information are available on request.

[Perhaps this group would be a good resource to go after the T&D maintenance issue?]

• Micro SMES, Dean Rovang, 505-845-8277

Both Sandia and Los Alamos have a hand in this program to build a SMES unit that would be about 10x larger than Superconductivity, Inc.’s unit, and smaller than the B&W/Anchorage device. The application is Power Quality for industrial customers, and/or at the substation level — on the order of 10’s of MW for seconds. This is seen as a development project, not a research one, with the goal to learn if such a device is the solution to an industry problem.

CRADA negotiations are underway with one utility already, however there is very likely a way for other utilities to participate, if only by providing modest funding for a seat at the table.

• HyMelt, Stuart Purvis, 505-845-8392

The technology makes it possible to convert low grade hydrocarbon feedstocks (or fossil fuels) directly into Hydrogen and Carbon Monoxide (separate product streams!) while sequestering impurities, even producing elemental sulfur. There is no stack, and no emissions.

Ashland wants this technology for its refineries, to deal with the sour crude it often must buy, to produce hydrogen, and to handle refinery “bottoms”, which are a costly disposal headache. As a Hydrogen producer, HYMELT is estimated to be 30% cheaper than steam reforming when using the same feedstock, i.e. fuel gas. It is cheaper still when a waste stream is used as the feedstock instead.

Ashland Oil has demonstrated proof of concept in their labs, and has funding committed for a production installation. What’s missing is the piece in the middle — the intermediate scale demonstration R&D. Sandia is proposing to DOE/Fossil to fund the government side of a CRADA with Ashland, but with budget cuts, funds might not be available. Ashland has asked Sandia to look discretely for a partner interested in other fields of use, and who could put up $800k/year for 3 years, leveraging the many $ millions that Ashland has spent and committed.

[This information should be handled with discretion.]

Contact Al Sylwester Tel # 505-844-8151
• High power switching Don Cook, 505-845-7446

Sandia has developed very fast, very high power switching capabilities in connection with pulsed particle accelerators for fusion research and other work requiring fast pulses. For example, they can make a 20 megavolt, 10-20 megamp pulse with a 50 nsec. risetime.

It has been suggested that this technology might be applicable to utility needs, however an initiative would be needed to establish a dialogue between the developers and someone from the utility industry to explore the possibilities.

Sandia Contacts
General Telephone # is (505) 844-5678
In Livermore, CA (510) 294-3000

The primary contacts for UFTO are:
Alan P. Sylwester, Technology Integration Dept., 505-844-8151
Dan E. Arvizu, Director, Applied Energy Program 505-845-8336
Technology Transfer: 505-271-7888

Information Source Contacts / Technical Information Services:

Office of Public Relations and Communications : 505-845-7759

“Laboratory Publications” 505-844-4902
Technical Publications 505-844-9285
Technical Library 505-845-8364

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