Research and development conducted at Sandia’s state-of-the-art facilities addresses complex challenges faced by the nation

Sandia’s facilities support critical mission work to ensure national security and to develop resilient critical infrastructures and reliable energy access to all. Engineers and scientists from partnering universities and industry leaders, as well as Sandia, use these unique facilities.

Advanced Power Electronic Conversion Systems (APEX)

The Advanced Power Electronic Conversion Systems (APEX) Laboratory supports the development of advanced power conversion topologies and intelligent control strategies. Research in the APEX laboratory focuses on robust and fault-tolerant conversion systems for utility-scale energy storage. Applications of interest range from individual cell-level battery interfaces to cascaded and modular multilevel conversion systems. The laboratory consists of two components: a rapid prototyping system for ground-up development of new converter topologies and a fully bidirectional hardware-in-the-loop testbed.

Photo of three researchers in Advanced Power Electronic Conversion Systems laboratory.

ARM Climate Research Facility

The Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility, a Department of Energy scientific user facility, provides the climate research community with strategically located, in situ, and remote sensing observatories. This facility is designed to improve the understanding and representation of clouds and aerosols, as well as their interactions with the Earth’s surface using climate and earth system models. Sandia operates the ARM facilities in three Alaskan locations: Utqiagvik (Barrow), Atqasuk, and Oliktok Point.

Photo of researcher walking up to snow-covered ARM climate research facility.

Brayton Cycle Test Loop

Using the Nuclear Energy Systems Laboratory (NESL) / Brayton Lab, Sandia National Laboratories is creating a thermal-to-electric power conversion technology in a configuration called the recompression closed Brayton cycle (RCBC) that uses supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) as the working fluid, rather than steam, thereby dramatically increasing conversion efficiency compared to the steam Rankine cycle.

The sCO2 power cycles are potentially applicable to a wide variety of power-generation applications. Nuclear power, concentrated solar thermal, fossil fuel boilers, geothermal, and shipboard propulsion systems have all been identified as favorable applications for sCO2 cycles and could replace traditional steam Rankine cycles.

Photo of two researchers in Brayton Cycle Test Lab.

Carlsbad Sandia Site

Carlsbad Sandia acts as the scientific advisor to the Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) repository project for WIPP regulatory compliance and recertification.

Carlsbad Sandia’s geochemistry work is primarily laboratory-based, with focused research on engineered barrier structure and chemistry interactions, gas generation and corrosion analysis, solubility and Pitzer interaction determination, and colloid transport geochemistry. Carlsbad Sandia’s hydrology work is primarily field-based through the maintenance and investigation of the WIPP groundwater monitoring network through groundwater-quality sampling, well testing and analysis, video logging, localized and regional groundwater flow modeling, and other associated groundwater characterizations.

While WIPP-related research is Carlsbad Sandia’s primary focus, they also participate regularly in the New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program (NMSBA), solving unique challenges presented by local business and bolstering local economic growth and community outreach.

Photo of Sandia National Laboratories Carlsbad site entry sign.

Combustion Research Facility

Established as the first Department of Energy user facility in the 1970s and designated as a DOE collaborative research facility in 2008, the Combustion Research Facility (CRF) has served as a national and international leader in combustion science and technology for more than 35 years.

The CRF develops advanced, laser-based diagnostics and other techniques that are applied to studies of combustion fundamentals and to investigations of engine-combustion processes using optically accessible engines and other specialized experimental hardware that simulates realistic engine conditions.

The CRF collaborates with industry, academia, and government focusing on leading-edge research that helps DOE meet national goals and aids industry in resolving challenging technical issues that impact U.S. economic competitiveness.

The facilities’ sponsors include the DOE Office of Science Basic Energy Science (BES) Program, which supports fundamental research to understand, predict, and ultimately control matter and energy at the electronic, atomic, and molecular levels to provide the foundations for new energy technologies; and the DOE Vehicle Technologies Office, which supports research, development, and deployment of efficient and sustainable transportation technologies.

Photo of researchers calibrating instruments in the Combustion Research Facility.

Control and Optimization of Networked Energy Technologies Laboratory (CONET)

Researchers at the Control and Optimization of Networked Energy Technologies (CONET) Laboratory conduct research, development, and testing on networked and distributed systems. Research at CONET is interwoven with cybersecurity objectives and focuses on: coordinated communications, controls and distributed systems, optimal dispatch, protection and reconfiguration, and prognostics and decision support.

Photo of researchers reading instruments in the CONET lab.

Distributed Energy Technologies Laboratory (DETL)

Sandia’s Distributed Energy Technologies Laboratory (DETL) is a multipurpose research facility designed to integrate emerging energy technologies into new and existing electricity infrastructure to accommodate the nation’s increasing demands for clean, secure, and reliable energy.

Utilizing the lab’s highly configurable platform, researchers at Sandia’s DETL perform advanced research on energy generation, storage, and load management technologies at component through system levels. DETL researchers examine advanced materials, controls, and communications to enable safe and resilient distributed and renewable power systems infrastructure.

Aerial photo of DETL solar panel field.

Energy Storage Test Pad

The Energy Storage Test Pad (ESTP), in conjunction with the Energy Storage Analysis Laboratory (ESAL), provides long-term testing and validation for electrical energy storage systems. Sandiaalso provides pre-certification, pre-installation, and verification of energy storage systems. The goal of the ESTP is to develop advanced energy storage technologies that will increase reliability, performance, and competitiveness of electricity generation and transmission. 

Photo of engineer next to electrical energy storage systems.

Facility for Acceptance, Calibration, and Testing (FACT)

The Sandia Facility for Acceptance, Calibration, and Testing (FACT) Site provides the equipment and seismically quiet surroundings required for testing infrasound and seismic sensors, instrumentation, and monitoring systems. Custom software, specialized signal generators, high-resolution digitizing data recorders, and low-noise signal amplifiers all contribute to the site’s capacity for evaluating the performance of monitoring components and systems.

Three mobile offices and a large workshop provide space for laboratory work, systems assembly, and operations. The site infrastructure includes an underground instrumented vault and numerous boreholes for deploying and testing borehole seismometers.

The FACT Site’s unique capabilities make it a valuable resource that can enhance the performance of monitoring systems, through the testing of equipment ranging from research prototypes to commercially manufactured equipment.

Geomechanics Laboratory

The Geomechanics Laboratory at Sandia enables researchers to measure rock properties under a wide range of simulated environmental conditions, including high-pressure and complex load paths. Experiments can also determine the accuracy of design procedures in the laboratory. Making predictions of rock mass response and fluid flow through rock masses requires quantitative models of the governing deformation and fracture processes. The geomechanics laboratory allows researchers to build these complex models and perform analytic and numerical design calculations about specific rock properties.

Photo of the geomechanics lab high-pressure instrument.

Geochemistry Laboratories

The Geochemistry Laboratories at Sandia support the investigation of basic scientific questions including material behaviors at mineral-fluid interfaces and the effects of chemical environment on fracture. 

Experimental geochemistry studies allow researchers to build and test quantitative model simulations at multiple spatial and time scales. Researchers at Sandia also apply geochemistry work to a wide range of applied problems including carbon sequestration, unconventional oil and gas recovery, nuclear waste management, environmental remediation, nuclear weapons applications, and airborne contaminant detection and removal.

Photo of researcher conducting testing in the geochemistry lab.

High Operating Temperature (HOT) Facility

The High Operating Temperature (HOT) facility houses a 20-foot-tall drill rig, heating chamber, and process gas heater. HOT site researchers simulate conditions found deep underground, study the effects of heat on the drill rig hammer, and drill into various types of rock. In addition to testing drilling tools at temperature, HOT site staff conduct research in drilling automation and control.

Photo of the 20-foot-tall HOT drilling rig.

Hydrogen Effects on Materials Laboratory

The Hydrogen Effects on Materials Laboratory is the cornerstone of Sandia’s research expertise in hydrogen compatibility of materials and a core capability stewarded by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office at the Department of Energy. The laboratory houses specialized assets for evaluating materials performance in high-pressure gaseous hydrogen including fracture and fatigue testing in high-pressure gaseous hydrogen and at temperature, crack growth testing, pressure cycling in a controlled temperature, and thermal precharging.

Hydrogen Transport and Trapping Laboratory

Sandia staff in the Hydrogen Transport and Trapping Laboratory evaluate many features of the interactions between hydrogen and materials. In particular, the effects of hydrogen on mechanical properties can be strongly influenced by transport (or diffusion) of hydrogen in materials on the time scale of testing. Researchers in the Hydrogen Transport and Trapping Laboratory evaluate hydrogen effects using gas-phase permeation, thermal desorption spectroscopy (TDS), and local-electrode atom probe (LEAP) analysis.

Hydrogen Surface Interactions Laboratory

Sandia’s Hydrogen–Surface Interactions Laboratory includes an array of specialized capabilities assembled to address the obstacle of directly detecting hydrogen in furthering our understanding of hydrogen–surface interactions. The lab includes an angle-resolved ion energy spectrometer (ARIES) for low energy ion beam analysis, developed specifically for detection of light adsorbates such as hydrogen. Sandia is also developing ambient pressure X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (AP-XPS) techniques and infrared spectroscopy systems (IRAS) capable of operating at near-ambient pressures. Other advanced techniques, such as Kelvin probe force microscopy and electron energy loss spectroscopy, are also being used to study hydrogen on surfaces.

Photo of researcher in the Hydrogen Surface Interactions lab.

Mobile Instrumentation Data Acquisition System (MIDAS)

Sandia created the Mobile Instrumentation Data Acquisition System (MIDAS) to provide on-site data acquisition and analysis capabilities for testing of radioactive and hazardous materials packages. MIDAS allows researchers, designers, and regulators to examine and understand how a package behaves in a variety of environments.

MIDAS is exceptionally consistent and widely trusted throughout the regulatory community; therefore, systems, subsystems, and component-level data are used to benchmark results supporting package design and certification activities.

National Solar Thermal Test Facility (NSTTF)

Operated by Sandia for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the National Solar Thermal Test Facility (NSTTF) is the only large-scale concentrating solar power (CSP) and solar thermal test facility in the United States. The primary goal of the NSTTF is to provide experimental facilities, equipment, and personnel for testing, validating, and improving new CSP components and systems for customers.

NSTTF customers come from multiple sectors, including government, industry, academia, and other labs. The NSTTF is also home to the oldest CSP research and development program in the United States. The CSP team partners with the Department of Energy, local and international collaborators on an ongoing basis. The NSTTF also partners with the U.S. Department of Defense, DOE/ National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and NASA to perform very high flux materials testing.

Aerial photo of the solar tower and heliostat field.

Nuclear Energy Work Complex (NEWC)

The Nuclear Energy Work Complex (NEWC) consists of two separate facilities: Surtsey and the Cylindrical Boiling facility (CYBL). Surtsey acts as the base of operations for the Nuclear Energy Work Complex and includes a machine shop, electronics shops, outdoor testing facilities, and a blast pad for high-energy tests. CYBL features a scaled reactor pressure vessel system originally designed for severe accident cooling studies. The facility also provides an outstanding controlled environment for Sandia’s spent nuclear fuel combustion experiments.

Aerial photo of the Cylindrical Boiling Facility.

Photovoltaic Systems Evaluation Laboratory (PSEL)

Sandia’s Photovoltaic Systems Evaluation Laboratory (PSEL) is a multiple-user, multiple-sponsor facility that conducts research in photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules and performs detailed analysis in PV systems design and characterization. PSEL’s infrastructure allows researchers to address critical issues of PV reliability and power availability.

PSEL research is conducted on behalf of the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, and other customers, often in collaboration with industry and academic partners.

Photo of four researchers under rows of solar panels.

Sandia Wave Energy Power Take-off (SWEPT) Laboratory

The Sandia Wave Energy Power Take-off (SWEPT) Laboratory offers mobile, specialized testing for systems that produce power from wave energy. SWEPT is used to test wave energy converter (WEC) power take-off (PTO) systems.

WECs convert the oscillatory mechanical energy from ocean waves to generate electricity, which differentiates them from other technologies that harness a relatively steady input of mechanical energy (e.g., wind turbines or hydroelectric power technologies).

Photo of the wave energy power take-off system.

Scaled Wind Farm Technology Facility (SWiFT)

At the Scaled Wind Farm Technology Facility (SWiFT) in Lubbock, Texas, Sandians partner with other researchers to study the interaction of multiple wind turbines in a wind farm. Funded through the Department of Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office, SWiFT allows for rapid, cost-efficient testing and development of transformative wind energy technology, with emphasis on improving wind plant performance. Advanced testing and monitoring at SWiFT will help researchers evaluate how larger wind farms can become more productive.

The site includes two V27 research turbines deployed by the Department of Energy and Sandia, and a third V27 turbine belonging to Vestas, a leading wind turbine manufacturer.

Photo of three wind turbines in front of a sunset.

U.S. High Arctic Research Center (USHARC)

Sandia and the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) have teamed up to advance the concept of a permanent, comprehensive multi-agency U.S. High Arctic Research Center (USHARC) in the Prudhoe Bay area. Sandia and UAF are actively engaging federal agencies, academic institutions, non-governmental organizations, and international partners to support its development.

Photo of USHARC in Alaska.

Battery Abuse Testing Laboratory (BATLab)

The Battery Abuse Testing Laboratory (BATLab) at Sandia is an internationally recognized leader in energy storage system safety research. The BATLab is committed to serving the energy storage community and the national interest with cutting-edge research programs, the highest quality testing results, and leadership in battery safety and reliability. For more than 13 years, the BATLab has supported the Department of Energy Office of Vehicle Technologies programs, whose goal is to enable new electric vehicle technologies. The BATLab also continues to support other DOE, Department of Defense, NASA, and private industry customers.

In addition to core battery abuse testing capabilities, the BATLab is home to the world’s largest and most comprehensive battery calorimetry laboratory, the DOE’s largest lithium-ion cell prototyping facility, battery component analytical and diagnostic capabilities, and extensive failure-analysis and characterization tools.

Photo of researcher testing a battery in the BATLab.

Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies (CINT)

The Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies (CINT) is a Department of Energy/Office of Science Nanoscale Science Research Center operating as a national user facility devoted to establishing the scientific principles that govern the design, performance, and integration of nanoscale materials. CINT features laboratories for low-vibration for sensitive characterization, chemical and biological synthesis, a clean room for device integration, interaction areas and conference rooms, visitor office space, and high-speed communications. The distinguishing characteristic of CINT is its emphasis on exploring the path from scientific discovery to the integration of nanostructures into the micro and macro worlds.

Photo of the CINT building at night.

Computer Science Research Institute (CSRI)

The Computer Science Research Institute (CSRI) brings university faculty and students to Sandia for focused collaborative research on Department of Energy computer and computational science problems.

CSRI focuses on research in areas of computer and computational science that are critical to the Sandia’s and the Department of Energy’s mission. The Institute is a focal point, both physically and in terms of research collaborations, between university researchers and students and laboratory staff engaged in computer and computational science, modeling, and simulation.

Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI)

The Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) is a San Francisco Bay Area research partnership that combines scientific expertise, resources, and support of four national laboratories, five academic institutions, and one industry partner. Led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) in partnership with Sandia National Laboratory, JBEI is sponsored by the DOE Office of Science (SC) with a missions to advance the development of the next generation of biofuels—liquid fuels derived from the solar energy stored in plant biomass.

The vision of JBEI is that bioenergy crops can be converted into economically viable, carbon-neutral biofuels and renewable chemicals currently derived from petroleum, and many other bioproducts that cannot be efficiently produced from petroleum.

Photo of the JBEI building on a stormy day.

Microsystems Engineering, Science, and Applications (MESA)

The Microsystems Engineering, Science, and Applications (MESA) Complex integrates the numerous scientific disciplines necessary to produce functional, robust, integrated microsystems and represents the center of Sandia’s investment in microsystems research, development, and prototyping activities.

Photo of the MESA building at sunrise.

National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center

The National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center (NISAC) is a modeling, simulation, and analysis program within the Department of Homeland Security comprising personnel in the Washington, D.C., area, as well as from Sandia National Laboratories, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

NISAC prepares and shares analyses of critical infrastructure, including their interdependencies, vulnerabilities, consequences, and other complexities, under the direction of the Office of Infrastructure Protection (IP), Infrastructure Analysis and Strategy Division (IASD).

Thermal Test Complex

The Thermal Test Complex (TTC) is an international resource for validation of fire physics models as well as the nuclear weapons complex hardware qualification facility for fires. Experimental fire research, validated modeling tools, and phenomenological model development capabilities form the basis of an integrated capability to solve high-consequence problems in fire prevention, fire consequence analysis, and fire mitigation. Sandia’s Energy and Homeland Security teams use the TTC to evaluate hydrocarbon liquid, combustible solids, and propellant fires.

The TTC serves two functions: to evaluate the thermal loads from fire environments and the multi-physics response of hardware subject to fires. The facility has been designed to study quiescent large-scale combustion events as well as to assess the effect of wind driven fires. Fires include hydrocarbon liquid, combustible solids, and propellant fires.

Photo of the Thermal Test Complex from the parking lot.