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Selection of Pipes for a plant: An article

Proper pipe selection for a plant is really difficult task. Organized effort of Metallurgist and Process
Engineers are required for proper selection. There are two approaches on pipe selection which are
normally followed.
Pipeline Approach:
When pipelines and production facilities are being built the emphasis is placed on pipe wall. Generally
there is a great amount of pipe, and quantities of fittings and valves are small by comparison.
Minimizing of pipe wall is the major economic factor. The extra cost of custom made fittings is far
outweighed by the savings on the pipe. Pipe is purchased by weight, so the added cost of high
strength material to lower the pipe wall is a reasonable consideration. When high strength material is
specified, extra inspection and more stringent interpretation are also necessary. The cost of the extra
inspection is also a reasonable consideration. Spare parts warehousing is a small consideration.
Plant Approach:
When plants are built, the emphasis is on standardized materials. The design is such that materials
made to the specified standard are adequate for the service. Certain specific services may require
additional inspection, or special requirements, but these are for service, and not economics.
Materials are usually purchased from warehousing companies. The relative cost of pipe is a
considerably smaller percentage of the total cost, compared with pipelines. The cost of machinery and
equipment take a large part of the budget. The cost of fittings and particularly valves makes up a large
part of the whole piping budget. The easy, and quick procurement of spare, and replacement parts,
becomes very important. Pipe walls may be bumped up, if the quantity is small, to a greater thickness
that is more available, or already specified in large quantities. There is a price vs. availability
relationship that is easy to overlook.
Price vs. Availability:
The price vs. availability relation can be shown by the following examples. Type 304 stainless steel
costs less than type 316. Many valve manufacturers standardize on type 316, because it is generally
suitable for type 304, and 316 services. If type 304 is the only choice, a valve will have a higher price,
and extended delivery. Even if the price is the same, the lack of availability can slow a project.
The actual material is normally specified by the process licensor, company, project metallurgist, or is
part of the Process Package. The selection of pipe is limited by the design condition and specific
service as mentioned below:
Design Limitations:
Pipe material is defined by material, type of joint, joint efficiency, wall thickness etc. Pipe has a
material name. Typical name are carbon steel, stainless steel, and chrome moly steel. Pipe has a
material type. Typical types within the material names are, killed steel, low temperature carbon steel,
carbon steel, austenitic stainless steel, ferritic stainless steel, type 316 stainless steel, 11/4 Cr 1/2
Mo, and so on. Pipe has a manufacturing standard. Typical material standards for pipe are
ASTM A106, API 5L, ASTM A333, and ASTM A671, for carbon steel, ASTM A312 and ASTM A358, for
stainless steel, and ASTM A355, and ASTM A691. Again each Pipe has a material grade. Typical
grades are Grade B, X60, TP304, and Gr 11/4 Cr.

The outside diameter of steel pipe shall be in accordance with API Spec 5L Table 6.2.
Intermediate sizes and the sizes NPS 1/8, 1/4, 3/8, 1-1/4, 2-1/2, 3-1/2, and 5 shall not be
used except when necessary to match equipment connections. In this case a suitable
transition shall be made as close as practical to the equipment.

The minimum allowable pipe size, including vents and drains, is NPS 3/4.

Wall Thickness:

Standard for Wall Thickness: Wall thickness may be expressed as wt, std, xs, and xxs,
schedule, and plate thickness. Weight classes and schedules are defined in ASTM A53.

Pipe Made From Plate: Pipe made from plate shall have the wall thickness expressed in mm.

Minimum Wall Thickness: The minimum wall thickness for pipe is generally the minimum
thickness that will stand under its own weight, with minimum deflection. Wall thickness is
always calculated for the design temperature and pressure, in accordance with the
appropriate ASME B31 code.

Wall Thickness Standardization: Wall thickness standardization is necessary to minimize

stocking requirements, and take advantage of quantity pricing. In the plant approach, pipe is
not specified in a vacuum. Pipe is welded to flanges and fittings in relatively large quantities.
The major criterion in pipe wall selection may not be from temperature and pressure, but from
availability of fittings and flanges. Piping is a system, and other items must be considered
during selection. When pipe is made from plate, the accompanying fittings may be special
order, and affect the critical path.


Threaded End Pipe: Threaded pipe shall be provided threaded and coupled.

Pipe for Socket weld Systems: Pipe intended for socket welding shall be square cut.

Butt-welding Ends: Butt welding ends shall be in accordance with the requirements of ASME

Lengths: Pipe shall be supplied in double random lengths.

Galvanizing: Galvanizing shall be applied in accordance with ASTM A53.
Pipe Joints:

Wrought Pipe: Seamless pipe is made by extrusion, or by piercing and rolling

Casting: Cast pipe suitable to be qualified as seamless must be centrifugally cast.

Forging: Seamless pipe can be made by the forging and boring process.

ERW: ERW pipe is Electric Resistance Welded. In this process, flat plate is formed into a cylinder,
and put through energized rollers that press the seam together and provide a resistance weld. ERW
pipe has reduced allowables than seamless.

Electric Fusion Welded Pipe: EFW pipe is rolled into a cylinder and welded with filler material.
This is a fusion weld and may be qualified to several levels.

DSAW: Submerged Arc Welding is a common form of EFW. Depending on thickness, the
manufacturing standard calls for a single or double weld. The thinner walls are welded
outside, and thicker walls are welded inside and outside, hence Double Submerged Welding,
or DSAW.

Type-F: Furnace butt-welded pipe, also known as type F, is used in petro-chemical

applications only for water.

Straight Seam: Straight seam refers a straight seam parallel to the longitudinal axis. The hoop stress
has no component in the axial direction. Straight seam is made by drawing a plate through a series of
rollers to make it a cylinder, for welding.
Spiral Seam: Spiral welded pipe is made in a special machine that takes coiled steel and rolls it into a
spiral, which is welded into a pipe. This is a relatively continuous process. The machine makes it
relatively easy to change pipe size. The convertibility of the machine and limited stock required make
this machine ideal for local production. Spiral welded pipe is not readily accepted in the industry for
other than water, despite the favourable cost, and recent tightening-up of the standard.
Joint Efficiency:

All pipes that is not seamless is subject to a joint efficiency. The committees that publish the
codes place restriction on the allowable stress for welded pipe. This restriction is in the form
of a joint efficiency, clearly stated in the codes.

Pipe can be qualified to a higher joint efficiency by inspection. The major factor is radiography.
The type and extent of radiography are listed in the codes.

Special Requirements:
There may be special requirements for the base material, the fabrication, or inspection. These special
requirements shall be clearly indicated in the Purchase Description.
Mill Test and Chemical Analysis Report:

A certified mill test and chemical analysis report shall be submitted by the Seller of all alloy
pipe (including ASTM A333), and all pressure-containing alloy piping components made from
pipe not clearly marked in accordance with MSS SP-25.

A certified mill test and chemical analysis report is also required for carbon steel pipe, nipples
made from pipe, swages, and all pressure-containing carbon steel components made from
pipe not clearly marked in accordance with MSS SP-25, for use in ASME Section I or ASME
B31.1 piping systems.

When alloy material and carbon steel, as noted above, are purchased by an outside shop
pipe spool fabricator, the fabricator shall obtain these reports.

Nipples: Nipples with schedule 160 shall be installed in sizes NPS 2, and smaller pipe sizes in
vibration service where bracing cannot be effectively provided.
Piping Material Classes:
The piping material classes in these standards show the actual selections for piping, as well as all
piping materials, by example. The classes show pipe and all of the associated materials for each
service. These classes are to be used as a basis for new services.
Specific Service Limitations:
Carbon Steels: Carbon steels are used in a variety of cases.

Low Strength: Low strength steels are generally only used for open piping, such as gravity

Regular: Regular steels are used for general service, including water, and hydrocarbons.
These are services with no special requirements.

Low Temperature: Low temperature carbon steel is steel that has been killed to improve the
microstructure to raise the fracture toughness, to reduce susceptibility to brittle fracture. Low
temperature carbon steel must be qualified by impact testing.

Killed Steel: Killed steel has the same improved microstructure as low temperature carbon
steel, but the improved microstructure reduces susceptibility to sulphide cracking, as well as
other related cracking. The fine grain structure and quality of structure also provide resistance
to hydrogen attack.

NACE: When pipe is to be used in wet H2S, NACE MR0175 is invoked to assure resistance
to sulphide cracking, including the use of killed steel.

High Strength: High strength steels are generally not approved for use under ASME B31.1
and B31.3. only the lowest of the grades are listed. High strength steels are used in pipeline
service to reduce the pipe wall.

Chrome alloys:

Corrosion Resistance: Chromium alloy steel also use molybdenum to control the
microstructure. Corrosion resistance is improved.

Hydrogen Resistance: Generally, chrome and Molybdenum are added for hydrogen
resistance. The Nelson Curves show the relationship between the partial pressure of
hydrogen, temperature, and chrome content. The curves are found in API 941.

High Strength: The addition of chrome also improves high temperature strength.

High Temperature: Steam will cause graphitization in carbon steel at temperatures over 425
deg. C, and chrome steel is recommended.

Stainless Steel:

Stainless Steel Types: Stainless steel offers resistance to corrosion in three ways. Higher
percentages of Chromium offer corrosion resistance, as an alloy. Higher percentages of
chrome with nickel alter the microstructure from ferrite to austenite. The austenite offers the
corrosion protection. Certain compositions will produce what is known as duplex steel, which
exhibits the qualities of ferritic and austenitic steels.

300 Series: The 300 series steels are the most common. There are two basic subtypes, in
which the austenite is stabilized, or not. The most common types are type 304 and type 316.
These materials exhibit microstructure problems at various temperatures. The austenite can
be stabilized with Titanium, and Columbium (Niobium). These grades are type 321 and 347. A
metallurgist is required to make the determination. 300 series stainless steels are extremely
susceptible to chloride stress cracking.

400 Series: The 400 series steels are less available, and are more difficult to work with.
These steels are generally only specified for specific fluid conditions. 400 series steels offer
less corrosion resistance than 300 series. Ferritic stainless steel offers better abrasion
resistance than do the 300 series.

Duplex Steels: Duplex steels have the corrosion resistance of 300 series, the abrasion
resistance of 400 series, and are not subject to chloride cracking.

Other Materials:
Some of the materials below are represented by the proprietary name for clarity.

Monel: Monel is a copper nicklel alloy that is usually used around caustic, at higher
temperatures. Monel is not readily available, particularly valves.

Alloy 20: Alloy 20 is a proprietary name, but most alloys have similar names. Alloy 20 is most
used in acid services.

Nickel Alloys: Nickel alloys such as Incoloy and Inconel are proprietary, and are used for high
temperature services.

Pipe for Pipelines: With the pipeline approach, the material is usually high strength. The specific
composition of the metal depends on the makeup of the fluid carried. The limitations on composition
vary, so there is a separate specification specifically for line pipe. Schedule 40 is usually considered
the minimum pipe wall, for mechanical strength, in small sizes, NPS 10 and smaller. When the pipe
wall calculates at or below sch 40, regular strength material is a considerable cost savings.

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