World-Renowned Facility Works with Local Manufacturer for Highly Technical Requests

Motivair’s chillers are used in a variety of industries for many different applications.  To that point, Motivair designs its products to adapt to the needs of the customer, such as extremely low ambient, pump integration, specific paint colors for components or sound requirements.  There are even projects which require the unit(s) undergo seismic testing due to the geographic location of the site and the sensitive nature of what is being chilled.  Fortunately, a world-renowned dynamic testing facility is located just miles from Motivair’s global headquarters in Amherst, New York to assist with these requests.

The Structural Engineering and Earthquake Simulation Laboratory (SEESL), located on the campus of State University of New York at Buffalo (Amherst, NY) is a top facility for research and testing not only for principal investigators and their graduate students, but also for private industry.  The facility performs structural tests for all types of infrastructure and components, including bridges, building materials and nonstructural equipment.

“The laboratory is truly an asset to the engineering, manufacturing and construction industries,” said Mark Pitman, Technical Services Manager, SEESL.  “What started as a facility for research has become one of the top laboratories in the country for providing seismic qualification services to private industry.”

“We’re fortunate to have this resource in our backyard.  Being so close allows us as the manufacturer the opportunity to assist and coordinate testing services for our customers,” says Rich Whitmore, President & CEO, Motivair Corporation.

Recently Motivair coordinated with the facility to perform seismic testing on one its largest units – a 240 Ton MLC-FC 930 with an Adiabatic System and integrated Free Cooling.  The chiller used in this test was one of three units that will be used to cool the central command center for a large power grid.  Because of the critical nature of the application, the 22-fan unit was trucked from Motivair’s headquarters to the testing facility to undergo testing designed to shake the unit as if it were in an earthquake.  The test was overseen by an independent engineering consultant who worked with the team at SEESL and Motivair throughout the process.


Upon arrival to the site, the unit was visually inspected by an independent engineer for any damage that may have been caused during transport.  After no visible damage was observed, the unit had to undergo pre-test verification prior to performing the multi-frequency seismic simulation test.  This included applying power to the panel of the chiller, turning on the fans and ensuring no leaks in the system since the test required the unit be filled with fluid during the evaluation

The Structural Engineering and Earthquake Simulation Laboratory (SEESL)

Upon successful completion of the pre-test verification, the unit was mounted on the test fixture.  One of the benefits of working with SEESL is having a testing fixture that can accommodate the size and weight of a Motivair chiller.  At almost 31,000 pounds and a length of over 38 feet, the MLC-FC 930 was rigidly mounted on SEESL’s 12’ x 12’ triaxial table using a 23’ x 23’ extension platform.

Control accelerometers were placed on the shake table as well as on the chiller to measure the shake table and chiller motions and to confirm the table motion matched the test requirements. Several trials were performed for each mounting configuration leading up to the actual multi-frequency, full-scale seismic simulation test.  The actual seismic test was completed in approximately 30 seconds.

At the end of the seismic test, the unit was again visually inspected and underwent the same functional verification as it did prior to the start of the test.  The engineering consultant deemed this test to be successful as the unit still functioned properly after the simulation and was able to provide the client with the results.

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