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GENERAL MOTORS-SANDIA LABS SIGN SIX R&D AGREEMENTS

 WARREN, Mich., March 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Three General Motors (NYSE: GM) divisions, AC Rochester, Saginaw Division, and Cadillac/Luxury Car Division, have signed six cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs) with Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, N.M. The agreements, involving expenditures of about $30 million by the partners, will help promote lighter, lower-emitting, more environmentally sound automobiles in the future.
 "As an industry leader, General Motors has long taken the lead in improving manufacturing efficiencies and in caring about environmental protection and energy conversion," said Donald L. Runkle, vice president of GM's North American Operations Engineering Center. "We feel these new agreements with Sandia will significantly assist in these efforts."
 "We were pleased to be a part of a historic meeting of the Big Three U.S. automakers in Albuquerque last spring," said Sandia President Al Narath. That meeting, hosted by Sandia, and subsequent discussions have helped industry and the national laboratories to focus on areas of cooperative research. "We are looking forward to working closely with GM in pioneering new areas for improvement to the car designs of today," said Narath. "And, we look forward to the challenges of continuing to work toward the automobiles of the next century."
 The six CRADAs include:
 -- A project with GM's Saginaw Division (one of the world's largest heat treaters of automotive parts) to improve the process of induction hardening of parts. Induction hardening is a widely used manufacturing process that adds strength to specific regions of metal parts, such as automobile axles.
 Among the goals of the program are development and application of intelligent manufacturing procedures and real-time control systems to reduce after-production analysis, waste, and inefficiencies. Eventually, agile manufacturing concepts and high reliability can be realized as part-to-part variations are minimized. Presently, parts are batch-hardened and analyzed, resulting in production losses and machine downtime, estimated at millions of dollars per year.
 Sandia expertise in intelligent systems (including neural network technology), computational modeling, process analysis, and material characterization will be applied in a three-year effort.
 -- Work with GM's AC Rochester Division to jointly develop fluid monitors for use in vehicle engines. Initial work will emphasize oil quality monitoring, then be extended to other fluids, including state- of-charge monitors for battery electrolyte, engine coolant monitors, and transmission fluid devices.
 The three-year effort recognizes that the efficiency of vehicle operations can be improved and wastes reduced if the quantity and quality of vital engine fluids can be monitored during operation. Sandia has developed technology for determining density and viscosity of fluids and will bring its supporting electronics expertise to the development of a measurement system. GM will provide a large data base of existing knowledge on other fluid condition monitoring technology and a large test bed, with supporting personnel, for conducting extensive engine evaluation tests.
 -- An agreement with Cadillac/Luxury Car Division of GM to develop a knowledge-based system for selecting new materials for a new generation of vehicles. The project combines General Motors' expertise in manufacturing and materials with Sandia's experience in waste minimization and knowledge-based intelligent systems.
 The 30-month agreement calls for development of a system, which will take into account the entire life-cycle of a material in meeting vehicle requirements, customer preferences, and environmental factors. The proposed system will look at manufacturing requirements of the materials, their impact on environment at the front end of production, as well as options extending their useful life at the end of the primary cycle.
 The knowledge-based system is aimed at reducing energy consumption and material waste by encouraging use of environmentally friendly processes and efficient use of materials. GM also believes a significant increase in fuel efficiency can be achieved on the basis of better material selections.
 -- Joint development of task analysis software for use in GM's automated manufacturing efforts. The goal of this project is an advanced computer design and analysis tool, available to U.S. industry for automation problems.
 Sandia is developing software that automatically analyzes the reliability of automation tasks such as grasping, part mating, fixturing, and part feeding. Such analysis is important to reducing "debugging" work, a time-consuming phase in which robotic work cell designs are tested and modified to resolve reliability problems. The process often delays operation of an assembly line and can result in expensive changes late in the design process.
 -- A project with the GM Research and Development Center to develop new materials and processes for the production of lightweight, wear- resistant aluminum alloys in engines. Using aluminum alloys in engine components will result in reduced fuel consumption while maintaining crash worthiness and performance standards.
 Sandia has been involved in the design and production of aluminum and other metal alloy castings for years in support of weapons development. Sandia's Liquid Metal Processing Laboratory has been designed to analyze casting behavior and provide data for computer codes that simulate investment casting.
 GM brings extensive experience in sand casting of iron cylinder blocks and heads, lost foam casting of cylinder heads and die casting of aluminum engine blocks to the project. Together, the researchers will examine new materials and processes to produce economically competitive performance aluminum engine blocks and cylinder heads.
 -- Analysis and improvement of thermal spray process technology leading to high-volume production of wear-resistant coatings on the cylinder walls of aluminum engine blocks. GM and Sandia researchers will use special diagnostic and modeling tools to study and improve prototype thermal spray equipment for increased material deposition rates and enhanced reliability. This process shows promise for improving the wear and corrosion resistant properties of cylinder walls, and the coated engine blocks may also be easier to recycle. Key technical issues are yet to be resolved before reliable, high-volume production can be achieved.
 Sandia's Thermal Spray Research Lab and Sandia's Engineering Sciences Center will apply unique process diagnostics and computational modeling capabilities to the improvement of thermal spray technology under development at GM. This development has resulted in a strong technology base at GM, which will be shared with Sandia researchers. GM will also perform testing and evaluation during the three-year development effort.
 Sandia National Laboratories is a multiprogram research and development engineering facility operated for the U.S. Department of Energy by AT&T.
 -0- 3/29/93
 /CONTACT: Dick Thompson of General Motors Corporation, 313-986-5721; or Will Keener of Sandia National Laboratories, 505-844-4207/
 (GM)


CO: General Motors Corporation; Sandia National Laboratories ST: Michigan, New Mexico IN: AUT ENV SU: CON JVN

DH -- DE016 -- 0540 03/29/93 13:03 EST
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