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Ford’s Engine Testing Facility
September 13, 2018


Innovative team members have been thrilled to provide Ford with a state-of-the-art, critically charged ammonia system. The environmentally friendly system — that will support Ford operations for the next 30-50 years — uses natural refrigerants and was installed at Ford’s research and development main campus in Dearborn, MI. It will be used to test engines and powertrains in extreme conditions down to -55°F.

Innovative started the design process with Ford two years ago. Working closely with Ford, architect Albert Kahn Associates and construction manager Barton Malow, we designed and engineered a state-of-the-art ammonia/CO2 cascade system. Our Director of Engineering worked diligently with his Chief Engineer and engineering team to minimize the ammonia charge.

Nearly a year into the project, it moved into manufacturing. In eight months, we produced: 7 ammonia skid packages, 12 reciprocating compressors, a cascade condenser platform with 4 cascade condensers, 8 remote chiller packages and pre-fabricated pipe to construct the project. Everything was built to ASME B31.5 and IIAR2 2014 specifications.

Electrically, there is a fully integrated Allen-Bradley PLC system with state-of-the-art HMI graphics and a 3D interface. Variable speed drives were included to allow for superb turn down control at low and partial loads. Innovative also provided a cloud-based Process Safety Management program to facilitate daily operations, training and regulatory compliance.

The chilled water system can produce 1,300 tons of chilled water. It was designed with an ammonia charge as low as 0.99 pounds of ammonia per horsepower. The ammonia/CO2 cascade system has an ammonia charge as low as 0.89 pounds per horsepower.

We moved into the construction phase last December. Our union superintendent on site led 15 welders, installing more than 6,000 feet of pipe, 12 electricians and 8 insulators. Safety is a top value for Innovative; we provided a dedicated full-time, onsite safety manager for the project.

Small doors didn’t stop us from building the large system. Since the packages had to go into an existing facility, they were designed to be “knocked down” to fit through existing doorways and small openings. They were then reassembled in their final location.

Ford is now in the commissioning phase and is about 90% complete. Phase 2 (-64°) will finish up in September and phase 3 (-45°) is projected for the beginning of October.

Innovative is working closely with Ford engineering and maintenance teams to provide hands-on, in-depth training.

We look forward to turning daily operations over to Ford very soon!