Los Alamos National Laboratory
Nuclear Materials Science (MST-16)

Dynamic Testing

The Dynamic Testing Team is responsible for conducting experiments investigating the dynamic properties of radioactive and engineering materials. The team maintains several experimental tools used to investigate effects of high-strain rate mechanical behavior including the 40mm Impact Test Facility and the Kolsky Bar Test Facility. The team is also responsible for the Isotope Fuels Impact Tester (IFIT) used for the evaluating the impact effects on various radioisotope generators.

Restartng the Isotope Fuels Impact Tester

The Isotope Fuels Impact Tester (IFIT) provides a method to impact 238plutonium heat sources and subassemblies of radioisotope heat generators to determine the impact response and the effect of different target materials. The 7-inch bore diameter launcher utilizes compressed gas in the breech to propel a projectile at velocities up to 150 m/s. In early 2009, DOE NE-34 requested several impact tests using the IFIT to qualify the impact properties of a new generation of radioisotope power systems for space missions. The IFIT restart team has accomplished the daunting task of the restart of the IFIT to normal operating conditions after a period of approximately seven years of no activity. A determined effort by the IFIT restart team, supported by TA-55 facility personnel, resulted in a successful series of readiness assessments. Official authorization to resume IFIT operations with nuclear materials was received during the last week of March, followed by a successful impact test in April.

Art Herrera (Nuclear Materials Science, MST-16), the IFIT subject matter expert, has operated and maintained the IFIT since its construction in the early 1970s. Herrera took responsibility to maintain the IFIT during the time of inactivity. Without this initiative by a dedicated employee, restart of the IFIT might have been impossible. The members of the IFIT restart team include Art Herrera, Joe Romero, Mike Ramos, Brett Robinson, Mandy Broach, Paula Crawford, and Sue Duncan (MST-16); Ben Lopez (TA-55 Engineering, ES-55); and Ruby Padilla and Dave Tudor (Radiation Protection Operations, RP-1). DOE NE-34 Radioisotope Power Systems supported the work.

Technical contact: Paula Crawford

Team Leader, Paula Crawford

  • Paul Contreras
  • Sue Duncan
  • Art Herrera
  • George Kaschner
  • Karl Krenek
  • Randy Sandoval
kolsky operations
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