New frontiers for the research on materials

Real Life Tester is the unique test bench designed to investigate the properties of simple or complex materials operating in critical environments simultaneously characterized by:

High current loads
High temperature
High pressure
Exposure to multiple atmospheres

Real Life Tester has been designed and realized by Ergo Design in collaboration with the Department of Industrial Chemistry of the University of Genoa and the Institute of Condensed Substance Chemistry and Energy Technology ICMATE of the National Research Council of Italy.
In this video, made at the Department of Industrial Chemistry of the University of Genoa, Prof. Paolo Piccardo describes Real Life Tester, starting from the reasons of its birth related to the study of a European project on solid oxide fuel cells SOFC, until the remarkable results that his laboratory has been able to obtain in 3 years of use.

Today Real Life Tester is ready to help the industry that believes in research applied to materials and wants to sensitively reduce the time to market thanks to the optimization of product development phases.

How it works

Reproduce the real-life conditions

Real Time Tester applies simultaneously to the material sample all forces present under operating conditions


Carry out test cycles with maximum temperatures ranging from 900 to 1,050°C depending on the type of thermal equipment chosen.

10 bar

It allows to apply to the sample 2 different gases (plus 1 inert) with maximum pressures from 5 to 10 bar depending on the chosen configuration.

1 A/cm2

it applies direct or alternating current with frequencies up to 1 MHz and with maximum current from 0.5 to 1 A/cm2 depending on the chosen configuration.

2,000+ h.

It allows all forces to be subjected simultaneously to the material sample for continuous test cycles lasting more than 2,000+ h.

The analysis of the sample

Maximum efficiency in material testing

Before Real Life Tester it was necessary to make the prototype of a new product to test it in the laboratory under operating conditions, entailing high research and development costs. Today it is sufficient to submit a small sample of material to all forces simultaneously and analyze the results, obtaining in a few days what previously took months or years.
Real Life Tester in its standard configuration allows to analyze and stress samples of circular material up to 25 mm in diameter and up to 5 mm thick.
However, it is possible to customize the sample size and machine configuration to meet specific customer requirements.
The sample to be analysed is enclosed between two rings of pure alumina, an inert and stable material in the operating temperature range.
Considering the countless reproducible experimental conditions, the wide range of materials that can be analyzed and the flexibility in customizing the machine according to customer specifications, the fields of application are almost infinite. We therefore recommend that you request a free consultation to explain your requirements.
Detail of one of the two electrodes in noble metal that, placed in contact with the material sample, subject it to currents up to 1 A/cm2.
A non-exhaustive list of use cases:
SOFC and SOED fuel cells
Metals and coatings
Ceramics and glass
Metal-ceramic interface
SOFC stacking simulation
Heat exchanger components simulation
Simulation of hot exhaust gas components
Simulation of vacuum conditions
Chemical and physical resistance under operating conditions
Monitoring of microstructural variations
Performance Calculation and Life Time Cycle
Dry and steam oxidation rate
Wear-dependent performance variation
Suitability, reactivity and stability of coatings

Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS)
Area-specific resistance measurements (ASR)
I/V curve measurement
OCP curve measurement
Detail of the gas supply system to be submitted to the material sample. The photo is relative to a plant limited to 5 bar, but it is possible to configure Real Life Tester to operate up to 10 bar.
Real Life Tester allows to expose the material sample from vacuum conditions to contact with two different gases, applied simultaneously one on each side with pressures up to 10 bar through two chambers separated by the sample itself. There are no substantial limitations for the use of specific atmospheres, which means that they can be used from vacuum to aggressive gases, with the exception of extremely aggressive gases for which a particular machine configuration described in the technical specifications is foreseen.
In this reproduction you can see in the centre the sample in contact with the electrodes in noble metal, the two gas chambers fixed directly on the rings applied to the sample and the external containment chamber.
A third containment chamber surrounds the two pressurised gases externally to collect any leaks and let a purge gas flow, ensuring both maximum safety for the operator and keeping the sample in stable operating conditions.
The sample housing is inserted and sealed in a tubular oven that allows maximum temperatures from 900 to 1,050°C depending on the machine configuration chosen by the customer. Two thermocouples placed behind each electrode in contact with the material sample allow to measure the local temperature with high precision.
Detail of the oven in which the sample is inserted to carry out test cycles with a duration of 2,000+ h.
Real Life Tester allows the sample to be subjected to direct or alternating current with frequency up to 1 MHz and with a maximum load ranging from 0.5 to 1 A/cm2 depending on the configuration chosen by the customer. In addition, it allows the detection and measurement of the electrical energy produced by solid electrolyte samples, such as SOFC cells.

Technical specifications

Composed of technical ceramics and noble metals

Real Life Tester fully represents the concept of product quality so that Made in Italy is famous all over the world. Given the high degree of precision that we want to obtain from the results provided by the machine, every single part is made with the best materials, often noble, which for the most part determine its value.
This photo reproduces the perfect state of the Real Life Tester used for over 3 years by the Department of Industrial Chemistry of the University of Genoa to carry out countless cycles of tests on materials used in solid oxide fuel cells SOFC, a project for which the same machine was initially conceived and built in 2016.
Width: 140cm
Depth: 65cm
Height (with closed oven): 52cm
Total weight: 85Kg

Supporting frame
Side heads
Central element
Material sample
Tubular oven
Gas supply system
The rigid supporting frame is made of stainless steel and serves to give solidity to the structure and to support the heads to which the central element containing the material sample is connected.
Detail of the rigid steel frame.
Detail of a complete head.
The heads are made of anticorodal aluminium alloy, some components and screws are made of AISI316 steel, gaskets and flexible tubing are made of viton, while pyrex is used in pressure insulated conductor passes.
For the use of extremely aggressive gases, such as hydrochloric acid for example, there is a variant that provides for the construction of each metal component of the heads in Titanium.
For the use of Real Life Tester in borderline or non-standard conditions there is a specific service for the machine customization.
Wiring and tubing inside the head.
The central element and the two gas chambers it contains are made of very pure alumina ceramics, given its non-deformability under operating conditions. Special high-temperature cements are used to join the alumina elements, while a quartz-based fused enamel is used to protect the welding of the platinum-rhodium castolin thermocouples from gases. Finally, depending on the machine version, very pure gold or platinum are used for the electrodes that subject the sample to current.
Detail of the central body in alumina ceramic, housed inside the tubular oven.
The material sample, which in the standard version of the machine is circular in shape with a diameter of up to 25 mm and a thickness of up to 5 mm, is glued to two rings of very pure alumina ceramics by means of a pyrex glass boron silicate enamel. These rings generate the hermetic seal of the two gas chambers in contact with the faces of the sample, thanks to the use of a mastic of our invention that is easily removable once the test cycles are completed.
The sample of material glued to the alumina rings with glass enamel.
Thanks to the use of these valuable materials the material sample can be subjected to considerable stress, applying simultaneously:

Max. temperature: 1,050°C
Max pressure: 10 bar
Max current: 1 A/cm2
Cycle duration: 2,000+ h.
Unless otherwise specified by the customer, Real Life Tester is equipped with the tubular oven necessary to reach operating temperatures. The operating limits vary from 900 a 1,050°C depending on the machine version.
Inside of the tubular oven.
Detail of the gas system.
The Real Life Tester package includes the gas supply system for each of the 3 chambers, to give the customer a turnkey solution that guarantees the highest safety standards. Operating limits vary from 5 a 10 bar depending on the machine version.

Choose the version

A Real Life Tester for every need

Select the version that best suits your needs, or create a customized one


Operative conditions
Max temperature: 900°C
Max pressure: 5 bar
Max current: 0.5 A/cm2
Cycle duration: 2,000+ h.

Material sample
Diameter: up to 25 mm
Thickness: up to 5 mm

Size and weight
Width: 140cm
Depth: 65cm
Height (with closed oven): 52cm
Total weight: 85Kg


Operative conditions
Max temperature: 1,050°C
Max pressure: 10 bar
Max current: 1 A/cm2
Cycle duration: 2,000+ h.

Material sample
Diameter: up to 25 mm
Thickness: up to 5 mm

Size and weight
Width: 140cm
Depth: 65cm
Height (with closed oven): 52cm
Total weight: 85Kg


Operative conditions
Max temperature: 1,500+°C
Max pressure: 10+ bar
Max current: 1+ A/cm2
Cycle duration: 2,000+ h.

Material sample
Any shape and size based on the specifications requested by the customer.

Size and weight
Size and weight: Variables according to customer specifications. Ask for a free consultation to inform us about your needs, including the use of extremely aggressive gases.

Equipment and services

Get the best from the research on materials

Depending on the type of use for which your Real Life Tester is intended, it is necessary to provide coupling with one or more devices aimed at obtaining the desired results and collecting data for analysis. In the following list you will find the most commonly used devices. However, we recommend that you request a free consultation to obtain useful information on the equipment necessary to achieve your research purposes.
Multichannel Workstation
The Potentiostat - Galvanostat is a multi-channel electrochemical measurement workstation. In Potentiostat mode it measures the impedance and electrical potential between the electrodes, in Galvanostat mode it controls the current flow.
Example of potentiostat/galvanostat.
The electrolyzer is a device that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. These gases are often supplied to the Real Life Tester in the study of solid oxide fuel cells and interconnectors.
Example of electrolyzer.
Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM)
The scanning electron microscope uses an electron beam to scan the sample of material used in the test cycles, analyzing its surface and sections (after proper preparation). It is essential to evaluate any changes that may have occurred within the material.
Scanning electron microscope.
If you prefer to take advantage of the considerable experience in the field gained by our research and development team, or if you feel that you may need to perform just occasionally the tests for which Real Life Tester was born, ask for more information and consider delegating part or all of the analysis of your material samples. Below you will find a description of our main services.
The scanning electron microscope analysis of material samples sent by our customers, before and after the test cycles performed with Real Life Tester.
Scanning Microscope Sample Analysis
If you need to evaluate the molecular changes made to the material by the test cycles carried out with your Real Life Tester, as an alternative to purchasing the scanning electron microscope you can ask our team to analyze the sample of material before and after the test cycles. This solution significantly reduces the initial investment costs and ensures high reliability of results thanks to the expertise and know-how of the team that has developed Real Life Tester.
Running test cycles on your material samples.
Execution of Tests on Material Samples
As an alternative to purchasing Real Life Tester, you can send us your sample of material in order to have us carry out the test cycles necessary to obtain the results you need for your research applied to materials.

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