Newly-Completed Weather Enclosure At LANL DARHT Facility Expected To Increase Productivity By 43 Percent

44378899404_db13afd3b5_bThe Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test Facility (DARHT) at TA-15. Photo Courtesy LANL


New weather enclosure improves quality of work life, enhances safety, and increases productivity at the Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test Facility 

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) has announced the completion of the Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test (DARHT) Accelerator Weather Enclosure at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The project was completed June 22. At $13.2 million, it is one of the first minor construction projects completed using the increased threshold of $20 million that Congress authorized in FY 2018.

NNSA Administrator Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty attended the Weather Enclosure’s ribbon cutting ceremony on July 16, during a visit to LANL. Speaking to the accomplishment, Administrator Gordon-Hagerty noted, “This facility will not only protect millions of dollars of equipment from the elements but will also boost experimental capabilities and provide a safe, year-round working environment for employees to accomplish stockpile stewardship which is at the heart of the LANL’s mission.”

The project constructed an addition to the DARHT facility, providing an enclosure to cover the confinement systems and target of the hydrodynamic experiments conducted at the DARHT firing point. The Weather Enclosure provides essential protection during the preparation of the experiment vessels and other confinement systems, by ensuring environmental controls like reducing cold and heat stress, and eliminating wind and moisture. It also ensures that these sophisticated experimental tests perform as designed to contain the high explosive blast pressure, debris, gases, and collection of valuable radiographic data. The enclosure is critical for eliminating delays in experiments due to weather and meeting experiment schedules.

“The DARHT Weather Enclosure will help workers to be more productive and allows operations to proceed more safely,” noted Administrator Gordon-Hagerty. It is estimated that the new weather enclosure will increase DARHT productivity by 43 percent.

DARHT consists of two large X-ray machines that produce freeze-frame radiographs (high-powered X-ray images) of materials that implode at speeds greater than 10,000 miles an hour. Such radiographs help scientists ensure that weapons in the stockpile are safe and effective and that—if ever necessary—they will perform as designed. The Weather Enclosure is a critical component of the DARHT mission at LANL.