Alden Research Laboratory, Inc.

Alden Research Laboratory, Inc.

Alden is an acclaimed fluids flow engineering laboratory providing analytical and physical modeling capabilities, flow meter calibrations, environmental services, fluid mechanic equipment tests, and field measuring services.

Company details

30 Shrewsbury Street , Holden , MA 01520-1843 USA
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Business Type:
Industry Type:
Water and Wastewater
Market Focus:
Globally (various continents)
Year Founded:


Alden is an acclaimed leader in solving flow-related engineering and environmental problems. The firm provides physical and computational air, gas, and hydraulic modeling along with environmental engineering and flow meter calibration services.

Founded in 1894, Alden is the oldest continuously operating hydraulic laboratory in the United States and one of the oldest in the world. From the early days of hydropower development and aviation, through World Wars I and II, and into the modern world defined by environmental needs, Alden has been a recognized leader in the field of fluid dynamics consulting.

In the 21st Century, Alden is a vibrant, growing organization consisting of engineers, scientists, biologists, and support staff. Much of our work supports the power generating, manufacturing, and process industries. Located in the hills of Holden, Massachusetts, we occupy 32 acres of land on which sit numerous offices, laboratory buildings, and support facilities. Our on-site instrumentation, carpentry, and machine shops provide the specialty fabrication and data acquisition systems needed to support our wide range of complex and multifaceted projects.

In Environmental and Engineering Services, we have over 30 years of experience in developing and evaluating innovative fish protection technologies and upstream and downstream fish passage facilities, as required by CWA §316(b) and the FERC licensing process. Our team of experts has provided international support in the development of screen technologies, hydrokinetic technologies, renewable energy projects, and debris management issues.

Alden provides independent Field Services to measure flow velocities, bathymetry, water quality, biological data, and sediment characteristics at industrial sites.

Alden is the largest independent supplier of National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) traceable Flow Meter Calibration Services in the country. With five test flow loops available, Alden can accommodate a large range of meter sizes from a fraction of an inch up to 36 inches.

Our Gas Flow Systems Engineering Services include both physical and computational modeling related to air pollution control systems for fossil fueled power plants, as well as fluid flow consulting for industrial, aerospace, and manufacturing clients.

Hydraulic Modeling and Consulting Services have been performed at Alden since 1894 to solve flow problems for utilities, engineering firms, the federal government, and vendors of hydraulic equipment. The addition of computational flow modeling to Alden's toolkit in 1996 has made us a recognized expert in using hybrid modeling to maximize value while minimizing project costs.

To be the recognized leader in solving flow-related engineering and environmental problems. We will accomplish this by:

  • Supporting the World’s environmental and energy future through independent evaluation and optimization of new and existing technologies;
  • Providing practical value-added solutions to industry and government agencies;
  • Delivering a quality product that meets or exceeds our client’s expectations;
  • Developing staff to be company and industry leaders; and
  • Using our staff’s expertise to help shape regulations that are relevant to our clients.


Established in 1894 by Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), Alden was the third university hydraulic laboratory in the United States. Initial interest in hydraulics was driven by the emerging hydro power industry. Holden was chosen as the lab’s location because it was historically a waterpower site having water rights to a 200-acre reservoir for saw, grist, and woolen mills and it was relatively close to WPI.

For any of the performance testing, a key element was measurement of input flow to a high accuracy, which led to the installation of the first major instrumentation – a 36 inch by 16 inch Herschel Venturi meter from the 1893 Columbian Exposition and a copper lined wooden weigh tank on a Fairbanks scale from the 1874 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. Both instruments were used throughout most of the 20th Century. Charles M. Allen was the director of the laboratory for about 50 years, and his interest in hydro power performance led to the invention of the Salt Velocity Method of field flow measurement in 1934. Field performance testing of hydro turbines and pumps for various applications remains an area of great interest today.

An additional instrument of historic interest is the Alden Rotating Boom, which was named an ASME Historic Landmark in 1982. The boom was used for early propeller testing by David Gallup. It was also used in the calibration of current meters, ships’ logs, and the development of the Cole pitotmeter as it provided a known velocity to correlate to the instrument readings.

Alden contributed to the war effort in the 1940s through studies of the physics of the entry of projectiles into water. Early high speed photography equipment was developed for use with strobe lights to document the effect of projectile shape on entry stability in large glass sided tanks.

During the 1950s, the increase in power use demanded expansion of generation capacity and led to increased use of physical models for solving problems with circulating water systems, including the use of hydro thermal modeling to meet water quality requirements. This need resulted in the construction of 10 large test sheds to house these models. Physical models were applied to various flow problems such as pump intakes, emergency core cooling sumps, riverine problems, etc.

The issuance of the Clean Air Act in 1967 and the National Environmental Policy Act in 1969 ushered in a new focus of studies at Alden that continues to this day. Alden formed an Environmental Services Group in 1994 which has grown steadily to meet the increasing demands of industry. In 1996, our Numeric Modeling Group was created to keep Alden up-to-date on state-of-the-art computer modeling techniques. In 1999, air modeling capabilities were expanded, and our Air & Gas Flow Modeling Group has extensive physical and numerical modeling capabilities.

In the 21st Century, Alden continues to be a pioneering company dealing with complex flow problems in all types of media. The Environmental Services Group leads the field in fish protection and passage research and engineering, currently driven largely by the compliance requirements of the Clean Water Act Section 316(b). The Air & Gas Flow Modeling Group performs numerous studies. Computer modeling is used by all groups to provide cost-effective solutions.