Sandia Labs News Releases

Sandia recognized for sustainable greenhouse gas management

High Energy Radiation Megavolt Electron Source (HERMES) pulsed power facility

Sandia National Laboratories’ High Energy Radiation Megavolt Electron Source (HERMES) III pulsed power facility. (Photo by Randy Montoya) Click on the thumbnail for a high-resolution image.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) awarded Sandia National Laboratories a Best in Class Sustainability Award for improvements in the labs’ Saturn and High Energy Radiation Megavolt Electron Source (HERMES) III pulsed power facilities.

Sandia was recognized for reducing the use of sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) with an award in the Greenhouse Gas Scope 1 and 2 category, which applies to emissions from sources owned or controlled by a federal agency and from the generation of electricity, heat or steam purchased by a federal agency. The Environmental Protection Agency has identified SF6 as having the highest global warming potential of any gas, at 23,900 carbon dioxide equivalents.

Sandia’s Saturn and HERMES III pulsed power facilities use SF6 as an electrical insulator for high-voltage switching devices, such as spark gaps and cascade switches.

The accelerators create X-ray and gamma ray environments powerful enough to simulate some conditions created by nuclear weapons, allowing researchers to conduct radiation-effects testing in a laboratory setting.

The Saturn and HERMES III team has reduced Sandia’s SF6 emissions by upgrading the gas handling systems. The NNSA’s Readiness in Technical Base and Facilities program funded an update of the reclaimer systems and the replacement of most of the fittings, valves, regulators and tubing in the expansive systems.

“It’s something we can do that benefits the environment and, in the long run, can improve our efficiency,” says Ray Thomas, manager of the Above Ground Testing Accelerator Operations Department.

NNSA has given out the Sustainability Awards for more than a decade. The awards recognize effective programs and projects that increase energy, water and fleet efficiency and reduce greenhouse gases, pollution and waste.

Sandia National Laboratories is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

Sandia news media contact: Stephanie Holinka,, (505) 284-9227