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How to Select the Right Material for Process Piping Projects

So, you’re choosing a process piping set up for your projects and the manufacturing process is underway. Construction is around the corner and the building of the process pipe system is not too far away. But, here’s one crucial question: have you thought about the right material for your process piping projects? Before the manufacturing, construction, building, and implementation processes take place, have you considered the material of the pipes and have you made the right choice? Pipe material is an important detail that must be considered now, not in the future. So, with the knowledge featured in this article, you’ll know everything about selecting the right material for your projects. 

Start by considering whether the chemicals are compatible with the material

Before installation for your piping project, process piping systems must be evaluated for chemical compatibility. The piping systems must be capable of handling the internal fluid that will flow through the pipe, so ask yourself whether the liquid or chemical that passes through the pipe is a corrosive one or whether it’s not corrosive. For many corrosive liquids, such as crude oil, a material that is corrosion-resistant, such as the ones provided by MEFA, will be required to transport them. A gas might be less corrosive, but it’s crucial to assess the gas for corrosion levels. What’s also crucial is ensuring the pipe material can handle every fluid scenario that will occur, which will include the typical operations and the operating extremes of your process plant. 

Which materials should you consider for corrosive liquids and gases?

There are many materials that you might use for your piping system that can withstand corrosion. Here are a few examples of materials that can will not be affected by corrosion: How to Select the Right Material for Process Piping Projects

Stainless steel

This material is strong, durable and can resist corrosion well due to its oxide surface layer. It’s one of the best options for chemicals, liquids and gases in process plants.

Galvanized steel

This material is also strong and is developed and created to resist corrosion. The zinc layer defends and protects the piping from corrosion and ensures that they can handle harsh weather conditions.

Copper material

The copper material is very resistant to corrosion, but it can suffer corrosion in some circumstances—particularly with acid chemicals that are potent.

Which pipe materials are not ideal for high temperatures, high corrosion and pressures?

The following pipe materials are not ideal for high temperatures, pressures or corrosion levels.

PVC piping

PVC pipes are perfect for applications that are electrical, and even though they’re also good for structural applications, they can be a poor choice for higher temperatures or extreme pressures.

Concrete piping

Concrete piping is typically used on engineering projects that are high profile like the management of water resources. They do need frequent maintenance due to the build-up of debris and if incredibly acidic materials pass through them, they can sustain corrosion damage.

Other types of piping materials

There are a few other types of piping that you might consider for your projects. Some of these types include piping that is nonferrous, cast iron piping, and lined piping

Non ferrous piping

Classed as piping that is metallic, but not steel, there are several material options for non ferrous piping. Some nonferrous piping types include aluminium, copper-nickel and brass piping.

Cast iron piping

Used for transporting gas and water, cast iron piping is the oldest type of piping. This type of piping is robust, resistant to pressure, and resistant to corrosion.

Lined piping

Lined pipes are, as the name suggests, lined with other materials to strengthen the steel material they are made of. Some lined piping is lined with plastic such as polypropylene. How to Select the Right Material for Process Piping Projects

Consider the temperature and the pressure that the piping must withstand

Piping must withstand certain temperatures and pressure after they are installed. Two factors to consider are high and low temperatures, and pressure and gas.

Pipes, high and low temperatures

The materials you choose for your piping should have no problems with liquids of a high temperature or of a low temperature if your process plant’s piping needs to transport liquids of these temperatures.  Particular plastic materials are not always ideal for coping with extremely high temperatures, so consider this if your piping must transport chemicals of a high temperature.

Pressure and gas in piping

The pipework must also withstand certain pressure after the installation, so you will need to know the pressure of the fluids in your piping system. This vital factor will help ensure that your pipes and material you choose can cope with high-pressure gasses such as ammonia, carbon dioxide, or nitrogen.

Think about the fluid handling system’s service life

The length of time that you require your pipework to last is a critical factor for your project. You will need to think about the fluid handling system’s service life. Knowledge of the duration of your piping is important. For instance, will you require the fluid handling system to last for seven years? Will you need the system to last 10 years? The decision you make concerning your piping material will factor in this longevity and will be determined by how long you expect or want your piping to last. Say your pharmaceutical company uses and transports liquids on a daily basis. When compared with a piping system used by a company that transports liquids less frequently, this can impact how long your piping will last, so factoring this in before installation is crucial.

Consider the planning and layout phase and use instrumentation diagrams alongside material choices

Prior to the construction and installation phase, the planning phase is essential when getting process piping and systems installed. Industries and companies such as pharmaceutical organizations must carry out detailed planning prior to the implementation of process piping. Instrumentation diagrams are important for this. They show how process equipment is interconnected, demonstrate the physical process flow, and should be considered and used in your plans in conjunction with the choices you make for your process piping materials. 

Evaluate how easy the pipe material will be to maintain

Both cleaning and pipe inspections by process piping services are vital parts of maintaining your system. Since cleaning your piping and ensuring that its fabrication meets compliance regulations, choosing a pipe material that facilitates inspection and cleaning done by your team is critical.

Examples of plant maintenance to be prepared for

There are a few other types of maintenance that are important, including maintenance that prevents any problems for your projects, cleaning maintenance, and maintenance for safety situations. In safety situations, the mechanical equipment must be maintained effectively and the process pipes should be made of a material that makes this easier. It might be the case that your company has a small team that cannot maintain the equipment like clockwork. In cases like these, pipe materials that are classed as low maintenance are ideal for your company, your team, and your process plant.

Consider whether your material will be exposed to certain elements

There are particular elements that your systems must withstand, including corrosion that occurs in the outdoors and corrosion damage that occurs indoors. When choosing and when planning the layout of your pipe fittings and components, like MEFA’s pipe clamps, ensure that the material can cope when exposed to certain elements.  Now, there are several other elements to be aware of when choosing a piping material. Some of the important ones include:
  • Seawater salt
  • Extreme weather
  • UV sun rays
  • Fumes that are corrosive
  • Changes in temperature
If your piping isn’t made of the right material, these elements can have a damaging effect on your projects, causing the piping and mechanical components to sustain damage.

Think about the material cost and cost of the pipes and components

The cost of the material is also important, and certain factors can affect the cost. First, some pipe material is more costly than others. Copper pipes, for example, are incredibly costly and can sometimes need to be soldered if your projects require certain components like MEFA’s pipe supports. Second, your pipes and piping system might require additional equipment that is suited to the material of your piping. You might need to customize your pumps or valves or have them customized to ensure the components and fittings are the best quality. Your piping and its mechanical fittings can be costly and quality is important for your projects, so get the right balance between choosing exceptional quality and staying within your budget.

Get quality materials for your process piping projects

The quality of the materials you choose for your piping can make a significant difference to your project. Top process piping services and plant engineering solutions will provide and deliver exceptional systems for your project. Take a look at the Pro Support Solutions website to find out the best quality services for your engineering plant, and choose the right material for your process piping project.

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