Sandia Awards GAEP Entire Zr-Upgrade Marx Capacitor Production


Jan 29, 2003

General Atomics Energy Products (GAEP) announced today that it has been awarded a contract for the 2.6 uF 100 kV 13 kJ Marx capacitors to be used in Sandia National Laboratories’ ZR Upgrade. GAEP will deliver the 2,500 units of Model 32896, Type C capacitors by February 2005. The contract value makes this the largest capacitor production contract in GAEP history.

Sandia will replace the 1.3 uF 100 kV Marx capacitors presently in the huge pulse power Z-Machine with the new model, providing twice as much energy in the same size capacitor. Doubling the energy density without compromising life and reliability means that Sandia will be able to use the existing mounting hardware, simplifying the upgrade and reducing costs.

GAEP’s qualification capacitors for the Sandia ZR-Upgrade.

Qualification tests of competing capacitor designs from candidate suppliers worldwide resulted in the selection of GAEP. At the time of this writing, none of GAEP’s Model 32896 capacitors have failed after more than 9000 charge-discharge cycles, far exceeding the minimum requirements established to ensure the reliable operation of the ZR-Machine.

Sandia was also concerned about the ability of its supplier(s) to deliver the capacitors on a demanding schedule. GAEP was able to demonstrate that it has the capacity and prior experience needed to assure timely delivery of the 250 lb capacitors without compromising on critical manufacturing processes.

Sandia’s Z-Machine in operation.

The Z pulsed power accelerator at Sandia National Laboratories, which began operating in September 1996, is the world’s most powerful and most efficient (15%) laboratory x-ray source ( The pulse that drives Z lasts less than ten billionths of a second--20,000 times faster than a lightning bolt--and yet carries 1,000 times the electrical current in a typical lightning bolt. But, in that brief instant, the accelerator produces an impressive amount of x-ray power, as much as 290 trillion watts (terawatts), and an x-ray energy of 1.9 million joules. The ZR Upgrade represents a program designed to double the energy storage capability of this machine.

GAEP is a leading supplier of high energy density capacitors for large pulse power systems, medical defibrillators, lithotriptors, lasers, and accelerators, and a variety of other applications. GAEP is part of Sorrento Electronics, Inc. (SEI), an affiliate company of General Atomics. The capacitor product line, formerly part of Maxwell Technologies, Inc., was purchased by General Atomics in March 2000 and merged with SEI in January 2001. SEI also designs and manufactures high voltage power supplies, radiation monitoring systems, and terminal automation products.

Media Contact:

Doug Fouquet, General Atomics 858.455.2173

Technical Contact:

Randy Hartsock, GAEP 858.522.8403


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