Sandia Labs News Releases

Sandia, Puerto Rican university collaborate to develop energy projects for global tropics

10-year agreement extends work with University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A new 10-year agreement between Sandia National Laboratories and the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, has the potential to bring more reliable electricity to remote communities and the latest in electrical grid technology to rural areas in the world’s tropics.

Efrain O’Neill, left, an electrical engineering professor at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, who is spending a year working at Sandia National Laboratories, talks energy research with Tito Bonano, a senior manager at the labs.  (Photo by Randy Montoya) Click on the thumbnail for a high-resolution image.

A Sandia manager who was born and grew up in Puerto Rico says the agreement will continue a decadeslong relationship with the university he attended.

“Collaborative  projects undertaken as part of this agreement will leverage the university’s academic and research expertise in addressing problems relevant to energy resiliency, critical infrastructure and energy-efficient process development aiming to treat, clean and reuse water and soils, along with Sandia’s expertise in materials science; grid modernization and resilience; multiple energy sources and systems engineering,” said Tito Bonano, a senior manager at Sandia who helped forge the partnership with the university and a member of the industrial advisory board of its engineering school.

The Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, which was presented at a ceremony Feb. 25 in Puerto Rico, will enable the two institutions to continue their partnership to develop safe, secure energy and environment projects for resiliency and reliability.

“We are honored to consolidate our efforts with Sandia National Labs through this collaborative alliance that represents the first CRADA-type agreement signed at a Puerto Rican university. It is a validation of the capacity and talent of our professors and students to find solutions on such an important issue in our country, such as renewable energy,” said UPRM Chancellor Agustín Rullán Toro, who holds a doctorate in industrial engineering.

Specific areas of interest for this collaboration include re-electrification of remote communities and development of next generation microgrids for rural communities, industrial parks and critical loads. The work also will advance computer simulations of energy technologies on grid-scale before integrating them into a physical system.

An additional research focus will examine the life cycle of energy components and systems from production to use and final disposition. The goals are to develop innovative materials, fabrication methods and recycling strategies to reduce the total waste from energy systems and increase their long-term sustainability.

This agreement continues a decadeslong series of relationships between Sandia and the university. Efrain O’Neill, an electrical engineering professor at UPRM, is the latest researcher from the university to spend a year at Sandia working with colleagues.

The university also is a strong source for well-educated students and Hispanic engineers, Bonano said. A summer internship program, started in 2017 to brings students and professors from primarily Hispanic serving institutions, including UPRM, to Sandia was recently extended through next summer.

Sandia National Laboratories is a multimission laboratory operated by National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International Inc., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. Sandia Labs has major research and development responsibilities in nuclear deterrence, global security, defense, energy technologies and economic competitiveness, with main facilities in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Livermore, California.

Sandia news media contact: Melissae Fellet,, 505-845-7478