Fuel cells are a fast-growing market, and that means there can be quality issues with incoming material, especially with the supply chain disruptions that have been experienced in the last couple years. For one client, using catalyst material that is out of spec can cost them millions of dollars for each unit produced. To help prevent this major disruption and cost, we partnered with the client to create a semi-automated test system that will safely operate at very high temperatures with flammable gas mixtures. The customized test system will be used to ensure the catalyst used in their finished product passes their strict specifications.


The image above is a custom catalyst test reactor with a modular design that allows minimal design changes to adapt into different test skids. This reactor is designed for process temperatures >700°C. This reactor is part of a test stand Optimation designed with the client that will play a key part in the client’s quality control program.

To safely work at these high temperatures with flammable gas mixtures required deep dives into NFPA’s guidelines and sound guidance from Optimation’s expert engineers. LEL monitors, ventilation, excess flow valves, door interlocks, and software procedures were some of the steps taken to mitigate risk and have a safer, compliant test system. In addition, Optimation provided the design documents and engineering justifications.  This enabled client to be setup for future integration with a Process Safety Management (PSM) program, or be ready to review their design and operation with an Authority Having Jurisdiction – so they are already set up for success.


Finding testing solutions in off the shelf products proved not possible for this application. Additionally, finding a partner that would work with the client to develop this system proved very difficult until Optimation stepped in to work alongside the client. This has been a partnership in all phases of the project, and the client has expressed gratitude at our willingness to work with them on the development. This has been a great project to work on, and the whole Optimation team looks forward to seeing how our design decisions impact long-term value.