The design and development group supports research programs directly by specifying and recommending equipment that can be utilized for a specific processing requirement, designing new equipment or modifying existing equipment, and maintaining responsibility for major equipment from cradle to grave.
Equipment design is performed at all levels. Designs may modify existing equipment to support new program goals, develop prototype equipment in the development of new processing operations, or may be somewhere in between those extremes. Frequently new equipment is installed with special features necessary to function as research tools. Installation designs are also tailored to the unique requirements of the processing researcher. Designs include mechanical, electrical, piping, controls, and any other discipline required by the research.
Key to the accomplishment of this mission is the machine shop. It features lathes, milling machines, surface and rotary grinders, drill presses, arbor presses, and a large volume of tooling. Fabrication equipment includes flame, saw, and plasma cutting equipment, and GTAW, SMAW, Mig, gas and stud welding equipment. The personnel are frequent participants during actual research runs translating their experiences into improvements to the research apparatus.
Only a portion of the processing equipment available is installed at any given time. The design and development group maintains all of the equipment in a ready status to be installed quickly as needs emerge. Frequently equipment is modified to meet the new requirement. A catalog of the major equipment available can be accessed here. The group recommends equipment purchases, upgrades, and replacements to support the known and anticipated needs of the researchers. The overall layout of the Pilot Plants is reviewed and modified to utilize the available resources over the broadest group possible.