Completed in 2005, the Thermal Test Complex comprises multiple test cells, ovens and a laser lab for controlled fire experiments. Prior to the completion of the facility, all liquid fuel fire tests took place at Sandia's Lurance Canyon Burn Facility which is still used today for large outdoor experiments. Radiant Heat tests were performed in a building that no longer exists.

Tests range in size from small-scale experiments using lasers, to large-scale tests that burn custom-made structures and models. Team members change variables such as temperatures, wind speed, and materials to see how the test objects fare under abnormal and extreme conditions.

The Thermal Test Complex exists primarily to support Sandia’s mission of nuclear weapons safety. The Thermal Test Complex workload supports a mix of nuclear deterrent missions and commercial and non-commercial customers through Sandia's strategic partnership program.

Thermal Test Complex Test Cells:

  • Flame Test Cell: A 60-foot-diameter cell used for mimicking outdoor, calm wind fires.
  • Cross Flow Fire Test Facility (XTF): An 84-foot-long, shoe-box shaped building used for fire tests with winds up to 20 mph.
  • Abnormal Thermal Environment: An area within the facility housing a large oven used to help scientists better understand material composites while they burn, and a fume hood used for testing high temperature pressure and high pressure gauges.
  • Radiant Heat Test Cell: A test area that uses a large lamp array instead of fuel to conduct fire tests.
  • Laser Lab: An area used for small tests where team members determine failure rates of small components that could be used in weapons, flying vehicles and other types of objects involved in national security.