Sandia has been awarded 5 Technology Commercialization Fund projects.  The projects focus on moving laboratory-developed technology to the marketplace through partnerships with industry.

Sandia’s awards are in a variety of technology areas including advanced manufacturing, geoscience, carbon capture, nuclear energy, and energy storage. The projects will deliver a variety of impactful technologies and improvements. For example, one project will improve compact heat exchanger headers, an area that has largely been ignored in previous work but that has the potential to enhance performance, decrease costs, and increase product lifetimes.

Read more about each project below:

Optimal Headers for Diffusion Bonded Heat Exchangers

Compact heat exchangers (CHXs) are a rapidly developing technology that enable improved performance and drastic size reductions in several industrial processes. Traditional headers that distribute flow from a single pipe to many microchannels are not only expensive to fabricate, but they also cause non-uniform channel flow, leading to lower heat exchanger effectiveness and challenges associated with cleaning to ensure optimal performance. Sandia’s focus will be to develop and test improved header designs for CHXs, thereby lowering manufacturing costs, improving flow distribution, and also allowing easier maintenance.  Vacuum Process Engineering, Inc. (VPE) is Sandia’s technology transfer partner.

Downhole Rotation for Small-Diameter Drilling Applications

Drilling costs remain one of the most significant economic barriers to geothermal development. One way to help improve the economics of geothermal is to drill small-diameter, or microholes, for use in exploration, assessment, and monitoring.  Sandia has been developing pneumatically driven downhole rotation technology that can be used with percussive hammers.  In partnership with Ditch Witch (aka the Charles Machine Works), this project will seek to advance the technology readiness level (TRL) of the concept tool and package it for small-diameter drilling operations. Ditch Witch’s expertise will help during development and manufacturing to ensure that the tool being developed is robust enough for commercial applications.

Memzyme Technology for Cost-Effective CO2 Separation in Enhanced Oil Recovery

In partnership with Angstrom Thin Film Technologies, LLC and Occidental Petroleum Company, this project aims to commercialize a novel membrane to capture CO2 used in enhanced oil recovery. If successful, the partnership could produce the first technology that meets the marketplace need for cost-effective production of purified CO2 while also meeting DOE targets for cost-effective reduction of CO2 emissions.

 Consolidation of Commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel into a Universal Canister for Storage, Transportation, and Disposal

Sandia and NAC International, a nuclear fuel cycle engineering firm, will use robotics to consolidate full-scale commercial spent nuclear fuel (SNF) assemblies. The project will design and  demonstrate a new system that will robotically pull individual spent nuclear fuel rods from a surrogate fuel assembly and place them into a newly designed standardized canister.  The canister will be designed to  meet all packaging requirements for storage, transportation, and disposal of spent fuel, thereby reducing the need to re-package spent fuel across these operational boundaries.

 Evaluation of WattJoule’s Vanadium redox flow battery employing Sandia National Laboratories’ membranes

Vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFB) are currently being demonstrated and evaluated in the US for utility energy back up. VRFB offers a large operating voltage window, completely reversible redox potentials, high power output, and single element composition that allows simple electrolyte maintenance (electrolyte rebalancing). However, the primary hurdle to commercial acceptance is cost, largely due to the membranes used in the batteries. In this program, Sandia will provide membranes for WattJoule to test in a 25m2 single cell. Lab scale tests at Sandia have shown that SNL’s new membrane has better performance, at half the cost.  This large-scale test by WattJoule will test performance at scale, thereby giving industry verification so commercialization can accelerate.  VRFB systems can store excess energy from solar and wind generation during the day, and release their power at night, which will lower overall costs and increase generation of clean energy.