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Sandia's Z Machine Meets 2009 Goal

Sandia's Z Machine Meets 2009 GoalSimulations enable stockpile stewardship without nuclear tests

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced that the Z machine at Sandia National Laboratories met its goal for the fiscal year by conducting 51 test shots in the last three months, more than doubling the number of shots for the same period last year. This re-establishes the Z machine shot rate capability after its refurbishment in 2007.

The data from Z machine firings, which are used in supercomputer applications to simulate the effect of nuclear weapons, are a critical part of the NNSA's Stockpile Stewardship Program. 

"The Z machine is an integral part of our commitment to maintaining a safe, secure and reliable stockpile without nuclear testing," said NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino. "I congratulate the Sandia Z machine team for their work in getting to this goal . Their commitment to nuclear security is one of the reasons we can verify the effectiveness of the stockpile each year."

The Z machine is the world's largest and most powerful laboratory Z-pinch X-ray source.  With the 2007 refurbishment of the Z machine, X-ray energies greater than 2 million joules and X-ray powers exceeding 300 trillion watts have been produced, as well as producing pressures greater than those at the center of the Earth  Working in concert with the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory -- the world's largest laser -- and the Omega laser at the University of Rochester, Z machine is helping to advance the frontiers of science and discovery while addressing our nation's critical national security priorities.

Recent Z machine research was featured at the Sixth International Conference on Inertial Fusion Sciences and Applications held in September in San Francisco, Calif.  This included a proposed way to efficiently harvest energy from a staccato, nanosecond burst of controlled fusion reactions.

Sandia's Z machine has already melted a diamond, shot tiny plates faster than the earth moves through space, and routinely reaches the temperature of the sun. It has also created temperature and pressures that have allowed astronomers to better estimate aspects of the core of Jupiter, the surface of Neptune, and the X-ray patterns around black holes in space.

Recent Z machine work: off site link off site link off site link off site link off site link

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Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science in the nation's national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad. Visit for more information.


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