Sandia teams receive DOE’s highest awards

By Paul Rhien

Friday, February 26, 2021

Secretary of Energy Honor Awards announced

The U.S. Department of Energy recently recognized the achievements of six Sandia groups with the Secretary of Energy Honor Award. The awards celebrate the notable accomplishments of DOE employees and contractors and recognize their service and contributions to the department’s mission and the nation.

“I want to thank all the recipients for their vital contributions to the Department and our country,” said Dan Brouillette, outgoing DOE secretary. “I am truly honored to work alongside such brilliant, talented individuals who show unwavering commitment to public service. Congratulations on this well-deserved recognition.”

Among Sandia recipients of the DOE Secretary’s Honor Awards and COVID-19 Honor Awards were the following teams:

Crude Oil Characterization

crude oil test
CRUDE OIL — This fireball was created by igniting 400 gallons of superheated Bakken crude oil in a controlled release experiment. Data from infrared cameras were used to assess thermal hazards of crude oils tested at Sandia. (Photo courtesy of Michael M. Montoya)

In collaboration with DOE, Sandia led, coordinated, and delivered the Crude Oil Characterization study. By safely executing a series of large-scale tests in 2019, the team researched whether oils produced from some of the nation’s richest shale formations possess combustion hazards in transportation and handling that are appreciably different from conventionally produced oil. The team designed, directed, and performed combustion and properties testing, including first-of-kind large-scale fireball tests, on various domestic crude oils.

Bringing together world-class expertise in geosciences, fire science, arming and firing, photometrics, and emergency operations, the team conducted the experimental study. The research answered key technical questions that directly impacts safe transportation of crude oil and directly informed policymakers and relevant stakeholders including the Department of Energy, the Department of Transportation, and Congress. The scientific study will also inform debate and improve industry best practices in crude oil sampling, sample analysis, hazardous material classification and emergency response for the large-scale transportation of crude oil in North America.

Flight Experiment 2 Design and Test

Flight Experiment 2 Design and Test

HYPERSONIC FLIGHT TEST — A common hypersonic glide body launches during a Defense Department flight experiment at the rocket launch range operated by Sandia in Kauai, Hawaii, in March 2020. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy)

Sandia’s Flight Experiment 2 Design and Test team was recognized for its national team leadership to design, build, test, field and launch the Conventional Prompt Strike Flight Experiment 2 Hypersonic Glide Body on a Sandia launch platform.

The results of the experiment expand the knowledge base of hypersonic flight regime for the vehicle and demonstrate the essential and innovative partnership between DOE and the Department of Defense in addressing the nation’s highest priority defense needs.

Hypersonic platforms can deliver transformational, precision conventional warfighting capabilities that are in demand by Department of Defense planners and can provide robust policy options for future delivery systems while maintaining DOE-Sandia expertise for strategic re-entry systems.

National Labs’ COVID-19 Testing

Nurses perform COVID-19 testing
COVID-19 TESTING  — Nurses perform COVID-19 testing at Sandia/California in May 2020. (Photo by Rosalind Turner)

To protect mission-essential functions, keep the workforce safe, and help reduce the spread of COVID-19, DOE laboratories began offering testing for COVID-19 infection early in the pandemic.

COVID-19 clinical testing teams from Sandia, Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge and Pacific Northwest national laboratories received the secretary’s special COVID-19 honor award for their work creating reliable tests, procedures, and capabilities to test more than 1,000 samples per day across the DOE complex.

Core teams of biological researchers, medical staff, safety experts and engineers performed extensive validation studies of the instruments, reagents and assays to prepare an Emergency Use Authorization application for submission to the Food and Drug Administration. Reliable testing has helped ensure the continuation of critical mission work by assuring the safety of the members of the DOE workforce.

Source Physics Experiment, Phase II, Dry Alluvium Geology

A team prepares an explosive canister at the Nevada National Security Site
EXPLOSION MONITORING — The Source Physics Experiment team prepares an explosive canister at the Nevada National Security Site prior to successful detonation. (Photo courtesy of Mission Support and Test Services)

Concluding ten years of testing experiments (Phase I and II), members of the cross-lab Source Physics Experiment team were honored for advancing the science of nuclear explosion monitoring and for providing value to the nation’s nuclear explosion monitoring mission.

Team members from Sandia, Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories, in partnership with Nevada National Security Site, the University of Nevada, Reno, and the Desert Research Institute safely and successfully executed a well-designed and extensively instrumented series of large chemical explosions at the Nevada National Security Site.

The experiments resulted in the first deployment of prototype seismic sources, maiden voyages of airborne infrasound systems, next-generation fiber-optic sensing, the first recording of dynamic explosion-induced ground motion using VideoSAR and improved high-performance physics modeling codes to make sense of the data. Using data produced by the experiments, the team developed one of the finest explosion-source phenomenology data sets in existence.

Additional Honors

Other Secretary of Energy Achievement Awards recognized Sandia contributions as members of broader working groups across the nuclear security enterprise. Some Sandians received awards this year for work on projects that weren’t principally the work of Sandia or its partners.

The Nuclear Security Enterprise Supplier Quality Working Group was honored for achieving new efficiency and cost avoidance by developing and implementing shared supplier assessments across sites. The group included representation from Sandia, Los Alamos, Y12 National Security Complex, Pantex, Savannah River Site, Livermore, Kansas City Nuclear Security Campus and Nevada National Security Site. In total, $742,000 in cost avoidance was recorded for FY19 as a result of sharing supplier assessments, with an additional $1 million projected by the end of FY21.

Sandia also participated in the Seattle Response and Recovery and Cs-137 Joint Investigation Teams led by NNSA, recognized for their successful emergency response, recovery, stabilization and investigation of the breached radioactive source at the University of Washington’s Harborview Research and Training Facility. The extensive investigative work performed by the team identified the underlying cause of the incident and will help prevent recurrence of similar incidents, as well as improve the efficiency and effectiveness of future radiological responses.

To learn more about the awards program, see the DOE news release about award recipients, and visit the DOE Secretary’s Honor Awards page for a listing of all awards for the past 12 years.