Published September 20, 2011
Volume 19, Number 9

Setaram Meeting Cutting-Edge Materials Challenges       
Company's Devices Key to Measuring Minute Changes in Temperature, Other Traits

Andre Levchenko, Ph.D. (left), and Steve Karim with one of
Setaram’s instruments.

By Nicole Zaro Stahl

Setaram Inc. is another new Hacienda tenant operating on the cutting edge of technology. As the U.S. subsidiary of French parent Setaram Instrumentation, the Pleasanton facility manufactures sophisticated instruments capable of measuring certain materials characteristics with extreme precision, in some cases down to the nano level. This is important because so many of today’s advances depend on the development of new materials—stronger, more durable, or possessing any number of other improved attributes demanded by the application.

Setaram customers are active in five principle industry sectors: life sciences, process safety and energetics, energy and environment, inorganic materials science, and organic materials science. 

“We focus our attention on the R&D lab, asking scientists and engineers what type of materials challenges they have,” relates General Manager Steve Karim,

Many of the questions are associated with temperature change. “Heat is, in fact, a universal detector. It is associated with everything we do, whether it’s a body movement or a hammer striking the pavement,” Karim explains. “Setaram specializes in instruments that are very, very, very sensitive to temperature change.”

Providing critical data on material performance under a wide range of circumstances, thermal analysis can be the first step in devising solutions to some of science’s thorniest challenges. In the energy arena, for example, the migration from fossil fuel in automobiles often targets hydrogen as a substitute fuel. The problem is that in order to store hydrogen as a fuel, it must be done at a high pressure to have enough fuel to travel a couple hundred miles. “No one wants a hydrogen tank in a vehicle at high pressure, so scientists are looking at advanced materials that actually absorb hydrogen in significant quantities but at low pressure. Being able to detect the gas absorption and thermal events is a key aspect of that research.”

Another potential application is aimed at carbon capture for sequestration. “The problem with CO2 emitted from coal-fired power plants is well known,” Karim points out. One initiative being conducted at government laboratories is investigating how to capture and store the emissions before they are discharged into the atmosphere.  “We offer instruments scientists can use to test and qualify materials that can be put into the stack to absorb the CO2 .”

Setaram’s array of analytical measurement techniques includes Calvet Calorimetry, TGA (Thermogravemetric Analysis), DSC (Differential Scanning Calorimetry), High Pressure Gas Sorption Analysis, and Mass Spectroscopy. The standard and customized capital equipment ranges in price from $30,000 to $500,000, depending on how client specifications. “Setaram prides itself by working directly with our clients to find the best solution for their application need,” Karim states. 

In addition to manufacturing, the Pleasanton site is home to sales, service, and R&D functions, with 12 people working out of this office and another six working remotely throughout the U.S. The 8,000-square-foot facility includes a spacious Applications Laboratory that showcases Setaram instruments and their capabilities. For more information, visit www.setaram.com


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