Established as the first U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) user facility in the 1970s and designated a DOE collaborative research facility in 2008, the Combustion Research Facility (CRF) at Sandia National Laboratories has served as a national and international leader in combustion science and technology for more than 40 years.


At the CRF, we encourage the direct involvement of individual collaborators from the scientific community. We host more than 150 collaborators each year who work side-by-side with staff researchers to develop new research methods and approaches, conduct experiments exploiting new facilities and techniques, and solve high-priority combustion problems.


The CRF has hosted visiting researchers from around the world, including postdocs, university faculty and graduate students, high school teachers, industrial collaborators, and national laboratory and government researchers. Together with CRF staff, they have expanded fundamental knowledge of combustion processes by pioneering research into new science and applied concepts.


Experimental Capabilities

Sandia Labs scientists develop ground-breaking experimental measurement capabilities, working on the frontiers of spectroscopic science and analytical methods to provide novel insights. We develop and apply sensitive and high-resolution optical and laser spectroscopy methods, and we have been instrumental in developing photoionization mass spectrometry for flame analysis, chemical kinetics, and heterogeneous catalysis research.

Computation & Theory

Sandia researchers develop and use computational capabilities to perform automated searches of chemical potential energy surfaces, direct numerical simulation (DNS) and large eddy simulation (LES) of combustion phenomena, uncertainty quantification, Bayesian analysis for optimal experimental design, advanced applications of machine learning, and coupled cluster quantum chemistry calculations, among others.

Chemical Physics

CRF fundamental chemical physics research spans scales of complexity from atoms to systems. We focus on forefront basic science to understand the interactions of light and electric and magnetic fields with matter, the transfer of energy among electrons, atoms and molecules, the chemical processes that are driven by electrons or heat, the reactions of gas-phase species at interfaces, and complex gas-phase chemical reactivity under varied conditions (e.g., high pressure, confined spaces, and extreme temperature variations).

Engine Combustion

CRF collaborations with U.S. engine manufacturers have increased scientific understanding of internal combustion processes that improve engine efficiency and reduce emissions. CRF research supports industry with advanced combustion strategies: ultra-low-emission, low-temperature combustion; stratified-charge, spark-ignition combustion; and advanced diesel combustion approaches. Researchers are also developing sensitive, high-energy, laser-based diagnostics for measuring real-time particulate matter in engine exhaust streams.


Quantitative understanding and scientific basis for materials and safety contributes to the science of advanced hydrogen and fuel cell (H2FC) technologies. Sandia researchers have developed ways to discover materials for hydrogen production, storage and use, evaluating their properties and performance. This not only provides the technical basis for assessing the safety of hydrogen fuel cell systems and performs quantitative risk assessment, but also evaluates the hydrogen compatibility of materials, and characterizes the behavior of hydrogen at high pressure and cryogenic temperatures, offering science-based code improvements to domestic and international committees.


CRF researchers are applying uncertainty quantification to the modeling of plasma-material interactions and are applying advanced laser diagnostics and mass spectrometry approaches to investigate low-temperature plasma phenomena. This supports DOE Fusion Energy Science efforts to develop magnetic confinement fusion as a practical source of electrical power.