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Designing a Process Piping System

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Designing a process piping system requires precision and intentional design. The manufacturer must fully assess design conditions to select the material and layout that meet all system requirements.

Learn how experts design industrial piping and select their materials to realize a fully operational process piping system.

Understanding the Process

Designing process piping systems begins with gathering relevant data. The designer will assess system-specific constraints and requirements, including pressures, temperatures, and flow rates. Determining the scope of the required piping system involves identifying start and end points, along with any intermediate connections or branches.

The designer will also identify the type of fluid being conveyed. The final product should maintain its integrity as fluid flows through the system.

Piping Material

When selecting a pipe material, consider the system operating conditions. Standard piping codes can give you some direction in identifying the right material for a process piping system. For example, the ASME Code for Pressure Piping contains a section dedicated to refrigeration, oil and refinery, industrial air and gas, and power piping systems.

The goal of selecting the ideal material for a piping system is to ensure safe operating conditions and understand how well it holds up against erosion, corrosion, and other extreme conditions. Some prevalent materials in power plant piping include:

  • Steel. One of the most common piping materials, welded and seamless steel options offer unique performance capabilities. Forged steel is typically used for fittings, while cast steel is ideal for specialized applications.
  • Galvanized steel. Galvanized steel is useful in environments requiring corrosion resistance that black carbon steel cannot provide. Galvanized steel is commonly used in airlines, waterlines, and other systems for better rust prevention.
  • Brass and Copper. Non-ferrous metals like copper, brass, and copper alloys are ideal for power plant instrumentation and water service applications where temperature resistance is not a major concern.
  • Stainless Steel. Stainless steel 316 piping is common in marine, cryogenic, architectural, industrial, food and beverage, aerospace, gas, petroleum, and oil applications. It offers exceptional corrosion resistance and strength for operations in corrosive and marine environments. Stainless steel 304 offers similar characteristics and is more malleable. However, it loses stability at extremely high or low temperatures.
  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). A thermoplastic made from fossil fuels and salt, PVC pipe has an exceptional track record and lasts longer than all other plastic materials.
  • Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride (CPVC). A high-performance variation of PVC, CPVC is ideal for indoor hot water piping systems.
  • Cast Iron. Gray cast iron, malleable cast iron, and ductile cast iron are all graded for industrial use. Cast iron is highly resistant to corrosion and abrasion and can be used in ash handling systems, sewage lines, and underground water lines. However, the material is very brittle and is not suitable for most power plant services.

What Are Design Conditions, Pressure, and Temperature for Process Piping?

Design conditions denote the most extreme operating conditions the piping system must tolerate. Design conditions include varying pressures and fluid temperatures, as well as possible corrosion and erosion from fluid flowing through the pipes.

The design temperature is the maximum temperature the piping is designed to withstand. When calculating the design temperature, you will want to account for the design conditions, any safety considerations, and the material’s properties.

Process Piping Services From Base Construction Inc.

Understanding the design constraints and requirements is the first step in designing process piping systems that perform as intended. Learning how the possible design conditions affect performance and design, including temperature and pressure, can help you select a suitable material for your piping system.

Base Construction Inc. has been designing process piping systems for various industries since 1998. We deliver turnkey solutions within a 50-mile radius of Irvine, California.

Contact us to speak with a design specialist or request a quote to determine the material needs for your process piping system today.