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Special Environments Laboratory

C-FER's Special Environments Laboratory (SEL) is one of the world's largest and most comprehensive containment test facilities. This unique facility is utilized for tests that simulate corrosive, toxic or explosive environments.

The primary use of the SEL is for sour testing with combinations of hydrogen sulfide (H2S), carbon dioxide (CO2) and corrosive liquids, often following NACE testing fluid specifications.

To safely conduct these tests, C-FER has rigorous safety procedures in place which require two barriers at all times between test fluid containing H2S and workers. Conventional fume hoods are used to house smaller specimens and low pressure tests. Supplied air breathing apparatus are used by testing personnel when required to maintain two barriers between the worker and the test fluid.

For larger tests, the SEL contains two walk‑in Special Environments Chambers (SEC) each consisting of a vertical, inground primary chamber, where large test specimens can be installed by crane and tested to destruction.

A horizontal secondary chamber, which sits on top of the primary chamber, provides containment if there is a release from the primary chamber.  The secondary chamber is also used to contain test control equipment and fluid and gas supplies during testing.

All testing equipment inside the SECs is remotely operated with pressure rated feed-throughs on all penetrations of the containment vessels.

The containment vessels have a working pressure of 1.4 MPa (200 psi) but are only intended to contain releases; the actual testing systems that operate inside the chambers are not constrained by this pressure rating.

The entire SEL, including the fume hoods and the SECs, has chemical scrubbers and ventilating systems for the safe management of room air that might become contaminated due to a release.

Permanent sensors continuously monitor the atmosphere at points in the SEL and in each of the fume hoods and SECs. Extra sensors are typically added during testing to monitor for releases at specific point on the test set up.


  • Primary chamber 12 m (39.4 ft) deep by 2.5 m (8.2 ft) in diameter

Examples of projects completed in the Special Environments Laboratory include:

  • Slow strain rate testing of coiled tubing in sour environments;
  • Burst testing of large pressure vessels;
  • Evaluation of synergistic effects of high strain, high temperature and sour conditions on thermal well casing materials;
  • Qualification of premium connections subjected to bending in sour environments; and
  • Hydrogen sulfide permeation in flexible subsea flowlines.

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