Saint Gobain - Northborough, MA


A global technology company had developed a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) ceramic fuel cell technology in a European subsidiary. Their USA R&D facility was planning on taking over the R&D testing and further development.


SPEC was brought in to "get it built". When we first sat down with the client the "IT" was undefined. To set up the SOFC lab the client had a shell building built with no utilities.  The client only had process requirements for the fuel cell test stand which included:

  • Gas supplies to the Fuel Cell Stack which controlled flow, temperature and pressure.
  • Steam supply to the Fuel Cell stack with controlled mass flow.
  • Building permits, safety shutdowns systems and interlocks for Hydrogen Trailer hookup
  • Connections to client campus security and fire alarm safety shutdown systems.
  • Cooling Water System
  • DI Water supply.

Project Highlights

Fully welded hydrogen and methane piping, with code approved wall penetrations Special alloy tubing for high temperature operation with heating/cooling stress analysis for engineered bends in the gas tubing to accommodate piping growth due to thermal expansion between 20C and 850C.

New electrical panels and feeds with UPS and non emergency power feeds. Electrically classified CL1 Div1 around gas connections implemented using intrinsically safe wiring (instrumentation connections) and poured seal fittings (for power connections) near gas connections.

The project involved 2 PLC systems, safety interlock control, and test stand control; as well as wiring and integration with specialty test equipment for the fuel cell stack. SPEC installed a new data collection RSVIEW Scada system and the existing lab PLC was integrated for data collection and alarming. The scope included specialty high temperature instrumentation and fittings were specified for the gas streams.