Emerson Opens $30 Million Global Innovation Center

Mega-technology critical to reliability, safety in process and energy industries; testing capacity for high-performance valves weighing 17 tons and two stories tall.

Go big or go home is the order of the day at Emerson Process Management's new Emerson Innovation Center, Fisher Technology in Marshalltown, Iowa. The company has invested $30 million in the 136,000-sq.ft. research and testing center built on the site of the original Fisher plant in downtown Marshalltown.

In his remarks, Emerson Electric Inc. COO, Ed Monser, noted that his company deliberately made a $30 million investment in Marshalltown to strengthen the technology of Emerson.

"It's about pride, small-town pride," echoed Terry Buzbee, President of Fisher Controls division of Emerson Process Management. "We want to note that this is also the 130th anniversary of the founding of the Fisher Governor Co., which was located where the northeast corner of this building stands now."

The facility takes up a solid square city block. The center required almost 2 million pounds of process piping, more than 1,600 feet of 30-inch and 36-inch pipe, seven underground air storage tanks each more than 150 feet long, and more than 4,500 cubic yards of concrete.

Fisher Control Valve
Every Fisher control valve design undergoes flow
testing in the 2500-sq. m. flow lab in the Emerson
Innovation Center.

But the facility's footprint is not the only big thing about it. The center is home to the world's largest "flow lab" that, for the first time, enables large valves to be tested in real-world plant conditions to ensure production reliability, efficiency, environmental compliance and safety before being installed at a customer site.

"No other facility in the world can do what our Marshalltown Emerson Innovation Center can do―from seismically qualifying a 35,000-pound control valve to testing a two-story-tall valve that controls the flow of feedstocks for a petrochemical plant," said Steve Sonnenberg, president of Emerson Process Management.

The center's flow lab has enough capacity to fill an Olympic-sized pool in just over eight minutes or a Goodyear blimp in about 12 seconds. Control valves can be tested at pressures up to 3,500 psi, the equivalent of providing enough force to support a sport utility vehicle on a postage stamp. Meanwhile, the center also is home to a 26,000-sq.ft. sound chamber in which Emerson can develop and verify the noise levels of new devices before a customer's plant is built.

Emerson, whose Fisher valves are installed in more than 90% of the world's nuclear facilities, is able to provide seismic qualification of its valves at the new Innovation Center, which is critically important to making nuclear plants safe and reliable during earthquakes. Emerson was recently awarded contracts to provide its Fisher control valves for Westinghouse Electric Company's newest generation of nuclear power plants.

The world's appetite for energy is driving the development of next-generation nuclear plants, mega-train liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants, and large oil and gas refineries, which require larger capacities and highly engineered control valves and instrumentation. The Emerson Innovation Center was opened partially as a response for this demand for testing of the large valves and other instruments required in such operations.

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