Combustion Engineering was once one of the leading developers of power and energy systems in the United States. At their peak, the company employed over 30,000 people in 12 states. Their national headquarters was in Stamford, Connecticut. Combustion Engineering also acted as a parent corporation for a number of other major companies, including Morgan Door and National Tank Company.
Combustion Engineering was founded in 1912 with the merger of two of the leading fuel burning equipment manufacturers in the United States: American Stoker Company and Grieve Gate Company. Their original headquarters was in New York City and in 1920; they constructed an eight-story office building in Lower Manhattan. The company’s flagship product was an English-style boiler known as a Type-E stoker. However, they also manufactured a number of other types of boilers alongside the Type-E stoker. The company’s manufacturing facility was located just south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
In 1925, Combustion Engineering began manufacturing steam boilers. One of their first major steam boiler jobs was for the Ford Motor Company’s factory in Dearborn, Michigan.
Combustion Engineering expanded their operations in 1925 with several key acquisitions. The first of these acquisitions were two boiler manufacturers located in Chattanooga, Tennessee. When the Great Depression struck, Combustion Engineering stayed afloat through a partnership with a Locomotive Superheater Company. This company manufactured superheated steam boilers for the railroad industry. The two companies finally merged in 1948. After this, the company became known as the Combustion Engineering-Superheater, Inc. The company’s first big job after the merger was in 1950 when they built a high-pressure industrial boiler for the Virginia Electric and Power Company. Three years later, the company went back to being called Combustion Engineering and they concentrated on building boilers for coal and oil power plants.
In the 1950s, Combustion Engineering expanded into petroleum fuel exploration, oil refineries, and the petrochemical industry. During this time, the company began work with nuclear power plants, and they began producing fuel for nuclear submarines. This relationship led them to become the leading supplier of boilers for steam-powered ships in the U.S. Naval Fleet.
In the 1990’s, Combustion Engineering was acquired by a multinational corporation based in Switzerland, Asea Brown Boveri (ABB). However, in the early 2000’s, Combustion Engineering’s past use of asbestos nearly bankrupted Asea Brown Boveri. The company survived and ABB merged briefly with Alstom in 1999 before being completely bought out in 2000.