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:

Exposure to multiple atmospheres
High pressure
High temperature
High current loads

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 Chemistry for Condensed Substance and Energy Technology ICMATE of the of CNR (Consiglio Nazionale per le Ricerche).
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.
Real Life Tester has been used in different European research projects in the field of fuel cells. More information and scientific papers are available in the documentation section.

How it works

Reproduce the real-life conditions

Real Time Tester applies simultaneously to a 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.

10,000+ h.

It allows all forces to be subjected simultaneously to the material sample for continuous test cycles lasting more than 10,000+ h.

What it measures

The evolution of material properties over time

Real Time Tester measures the variation of the electrochemical properties of the material under operating conditions

5-Pole Measurement

The 5-pole measurement of the material resistance over time allows to monitor and analyse the behaviour of the sample on each face.

Real Time Data

You don't need to wait months to get results. While the test is in progress you can analyze the real time data and view the graphs that draw the evolution.

Software Tools

The workstation is equipped with powerful software tools that allows you to program tests, analyze and process the data collected.

Industry 4.0 Ready

Real-time measurement and saving of collected data in a local network allows easy connection to logics of production automation.
Real Life Tester allows you to analyze and stress circular samples of material with diameter 25 mm and thickness up to 5 mm. However, it is possible to customize the sample size and machine configuration to meet specific customer requirements.
In this simplified 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.
Detail of a new material sample during the insertion process inside the gas chambers of Real Life Tester.
A non-exhaustive list of use cases:
SOFC and SOEC fuel cells
Metals and coatings
Ceramics and glass
Metal-ceramic interface
SOFC and SOEC 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 a sample of material extracted from Real Life Tester, visibly deteriorated after a test cycle.
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 weeks what previously took years.

Technical documents


Real Life Tester

Data Sheet
Italiano | English
EU Declaration of Conformity


Note: The following research laboratories are equipped with Real Life Tester.
Department of Chemistry and Industrial Chemistry
Since 2016 the laboratory of metallurgy and materials (LMM), coordinated by Prof. Paolo Piccardo, has been using Real Life Tester to carry out research on metals. Over the years, the laboratory and Real Life Tester have been used both in important European research projects and in research commissioned by leading world companies, including NIPPON STEEL (Japan), SUNFIRE GMBH (Germany) and ARINOX SPA (Italy).
Institute of Condensed Substance Chemistry and Energy Technology
Since 2014, ICMATE department of CNR has been equipped with Real Life Tester to conduct research on metals and materials. Real Life Tester was born in its first version in the context of a CNR research project.


Note: The following european research projects have been conducted using Real Life Tester.
AD ASTRA (2019)
Accelerated Stress Tests and Lifetime Prediction for Solid Oxide Cells
Partner Companies: SOLIDPOWER SPA (Italy), SUNFIRE GMBH (Germany).
Partner Research Institutions : ENEA (Agenzia Nazionale per le Nuove Tecnologie, l'Energia e lo Sviluppo Economico Sostenibile, Italy), UNIGE (Università di Genova, Italy), EIFER (European Institute for Energy Research, Germany), CEA (Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives,France), EPFL (École Politechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland), DTU (Danmarks Tekniske Universitet, Denmark), UNISA (Università di Salerno, Italy).
Degradation Mechanisms in Solid Oxide Fuel Cells and Systems
Partner Companies: SOFCPOWER SPA (Italy), SCHOTT AG (Germany), HTCERAMIX SA (Spain), MARION TECHNOLOGIE (France).
Partner Research Institutions: UNIGE (Università di Genova, Italy), DLR (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Germany), IREC (Institut de Recerca en Energia de Catalunya, Spain), CNRS-BX (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France), EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland), IEES (Institute of Electrochemistry and Energy Systems, Bulgary), CEA (De la recherche à l'industrie, France), UNIPI (Università di Pisa, Italy).
CNR/BAS (2015)
Celle a combustibile a ossidi solidi reversibili (SOFC-SOEC)
Partner Research Institutions: CNR (Consiglio Nazionale per le Ricerche, Italy), BAS (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Bulgaria).
CNR (2014)
Materiali elettroceramici per l’energetica e l’elettronica
Partner Companies: SOFCPOWER SPA (Italy), FERRANIA SOLIS SPA (Italy).
Partner Research Institutions: CNR (Consiglio Nazionale per le Ricerche, Italy), UNIGE (Università di Genova, Italy), UNIMI (Università di Milano, Italy), UNIPV (Università di Pavia, Italy), UNIPV (Università di Palermo, Italy), UAIC (University of Iasi, Romania), DLR (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Germany), IEES (Institute of Electrochemistry and Energy Systems, Bulgary).


Fuel Cells: Analysis of AISI441, AISI444 and AISI430 steels, specific alloys and ceramic layers used in the construction of SOFC fuel cells.
Italiano | English
Automotive: Analysis of phenomena that reduce the life cycle of endothermic engine exhaust systems.
Italiano | English
Industry: Corrosion and oxidation analysis of alloys used in exhaust and heat exchangers of a waste to energy plant.
Italiano | English


Note: Studies in the following scientific publications have been conducted using Real Life Tester.
Shaping of a dual membrane SOFC and first electrochemical tests in a dedicated 3- chamber set-up. September 15, 2015. [10.1149/06801.1969ecst] [hal-01199467] David Masson, Francesco Perrozzi, Paolo Piccardo, Massimo Viviani, Claire Pilot, Zdravko Stoynov, Daria Vladikova, Anthony Chesnaud, Alain Thorel (Real Life Tester mentioned on pages 2,4,6).
Parametrical coordinates and microsamples simulating a real SOFC stack. February 17, 2017. Paolo Piccardo, Roberto Spotorno (Real Life Tester mentioned on page 1).
Studio e caratterizzazione degli acciai ferritici come candidati per applicazioni in pile a combustibile a ossido solido. July 2019. Valeria Bongiorno, Paolo Piccardo, Roberto Spotorno, Martina Fossati, Roberto Lo Savio (Metallurgia Italiana, article on pages 41-43, Real Life Tester mentioned on page 43).

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: 10,000+ h.

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

Size and weight
Width: 138cm
Depth: 58cm
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: 10,000+ h.

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

Size and weight
Width: 138cm
Depth: 58cm
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: 10,000+ 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.

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