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Energy and ClimateEnergy ResearchFusion Energy SciencesPlasma Materials Test Facility

Plasma Materials Test Facility

Fusion Technologies - Sandia National LaboratoriesThe Plasma Materials Test Facility (PMTF) at Sandia National Laboratories is a DOE designated user and work-for-others (WFO) facility. This designation permits outside researchers from private companies and universities to either visit and use the facility when no DOE experiments are underway or to contract Sandia directly through a WFO agreement to perform their testing.

During the past seventeen years, the PMTF has performed research under the auspices of over 60 user facility agreements with private industry. High heat flux testing was performed on

  • 17 helium-cooled heat exchangers for Creare, Thermacore, Ultramet, and General Atomics;
  • 2 water-cooled gyrotron cavities for Thermacore and Varian;
  • a water-cooled vane tip for magnetrons; and
  • 2 water-cooled, cross-field microwave amplifiers for DoD applications developed by Jaycor and CPI, Inc.

Liquid lithium-cooled refractory heat sinks fabricated by Plasma Processes, Inc. were also tested at the PMTF using a liquid metal cooling loop as well as high-temperature, refractory helium/helium and lithium/helium heat exchangers.

During the testing described above, the PMTF achieved record heat fluxes on the gyrotron cavities of 140 MW/m2 for the parallel channel device and 110 MW/m2 for the porous metal device. The PMTF achieved a helium cooling technology milestone; the facility achieved a world-record heat flux on one of the porous metal, helium heat exchangers of 40 MW/m2. This kind of testing would not be accessible to these companies anywhere in the U.S. except through Sandia. The PMTF has made significant contributions to advancing heat exchanger designs and optimizing the cooling of high-power devices used to ensure the security of the nation, as well as to advance fusion technology.

In addition to the user facility/WFO agreements, the PMTF hosted work for other DOE labs, such as Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, universities such as Ohio State and Michigan State, and private companies, which used PMTF equipment/personnel to evaluate an accelerator beam dump’s thermal performance. This beam dump’s ultimate use was to generate neutrons for cancer therapy and to produce rare-isotope beams. Other tests included a water-cooled, klystron source heat exchanger; a photon beam dump for use at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center; a helium-cooled RF Faraday shield and EUV lithography electrodes, both developed by Thermacore, Inc.; and various x-ray tube anodes, windows, and radio frequency mirrors.

The PMTF is operated for DOE by Sandia’s Fusion Technology Department. It contains a 1.2 MW, dual-source, continuous wave (CW) electron beam system, the EB-1200, that is used for one-sided heating of test articles over areas as large as 0.7 m × 0.4 m. The PMTF also has a 60 kW electron beam system, the EB-60,  for smaller targets. Both the EB-1200 and EB-60 can be connected to a closed-loop, 4 MPa, helium coolant system and a closed-loop liquid metal coolant system. They also share a high-pressure, high-temperature (7MPa, 280 °C) closed-loop water system for target cooling.

Sandia scientists and technical personnel at the PMTF can assist various customers by performing high-heat-flux testing and evaluation of fusion components, advanced heat exchangers, high-temperature materials, and advanced joining techniques. Our staff can also model plasma/material interactions and particle transport in physical vapor deposition (PVD) plumes and can assist in developing new PVD process-control techniques.

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