About Sandia National Laboratories
Through the Secure and Sustainable Energy Future Mission, Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) helps to enable an uninterrupted and enduring supply of energy from domestic sources and supports the reliability and resiliency of the associated energy infrastructure, as well as the efficient use of energy. This mission is braced by ongoing lab efforts to drive the development and deployment of energy sources that are safe, efficient, and less dependent on scarce natural resources—and advance an array of energy applications, from solid-state lighting to new vehicle technologies.
Sandia has been nationally recognized for connecting laboratories with small businesses through the New Mexico Small Business Assistance program, a 15-year-old initiative that provides unique lab capabilities and technical expertise to the private sector.
Sandia's Vehicle Technologies research covers multiple areas:
- Combustion science: The Engine Combustion Research program performs advanced engine and fuels research to provide the combustion science and knowledge base required to develop the next generation of high-efficiency, clean engines adapted to both current and future fuels. These capabilities include the development and use of optically accessible engines and engine simulators that allow real-time investigation of engine combustion processes using laser-based and optical diagnostics. To supplement these efforts, we develop numerical data to probe processes that are inaccessible experimentally through use of ultra-high-fidelity computer simulation tools that incorporate the full physics and chemistry needed for near-first-principles simulation of engine combustion processes.
- Battery safety: Sandia's Power Sources Technology Group provides battery safety research and abuse testing to support the nation's vehicle electrification strategic objectives, as well as national lab and commercial partners. The effort entails materials development with a focus on improving inherent battery safety, abuse testing, and test protocol development.
- Vehicle choice modeling: Sandia's Parametric Transportation Pathways Analysis group provides parametric vehicle choice modeling and analysis to assess the sensitivity of various factors that influence the market penetration of multiple alternative fuels and technologies. The model provides insight into tradeoffs across the vehicle mix including battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (BEVs and PHEVs), fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), natural gas vehicles (NGVs), and vehicles powered by biofuels, as well as their corresponding impacts on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and petroleum consumption.
- Natural gas vehicle (NGV) safety: Sandia is investigating issues related to natural gas leaks inside maintenance facilities through hazard and operability (HAZOP) studies, leak and scenario modeling, and other analysis methods to evaluate key risk scenarios. Goals are to develop best practices, educational materials, facility design guidance, and proposed changes to fire protection codes. Ultimately, this work offers the science basis needed to address the issues and bring advanced transportation options to market.
Facilities and Tools
Housed within the renowned Combustion Research Facility, Sandia's engine research facilities include the following:
- Eight optically accessible engine laboratories suitable for investigating fuel injection and spray processes, in-cylinder fluid mechanics and mixture formation processes, and combustion and emission formation processes in both heavy-duty and light-duty engines. These laboratories are equipped with direct-injection advanced spark ignition technologies, compression ignition (diesel) technologies, and advanced kinetically controlled combustion technologies.
- Combustion simulation facilities that enable investigation of spray development and mixture formation processes at pressures and temperatures ranging up to approximately 200 bar and 1200K. The facilities are equipped to allow the application of multiple advanced diagnostic techniques, including high speed imaging, laser-induced florescence, particle image velocimetry, and laser-induced incandescence. Also available are unique, compressible large eddy simulation codes and computational facilities capable of delivering 17 million CPU-hours of computer time annually.
Battery Abuse Testing Laboratory (BATLab)
The Battery Abuse Testing Laboratory houses an extensive calorimetry laboratory, unique hardened test cells for destructive testing in a safe operational environment, battery prototyping capabilities, and access to Sandia's broader testing capabilities and facilities.
ParaChoice Systems Analysis Model
This model captures the changes to the Light Duty Vehicle (LDV) stock by analyzing its dynamic, economic relationship to fuels and energy sources. The model occupies a system-level analysis layer that accepts input from other DOE/OVT models to explore the uncertainty and trade space (with 10,000s of model runs) that is not accessible in individual scenario-focused studies.