Laboratory Gases: Stainless Steel Pipe

Laboratory Gas systems are used to transport various gases for use in a laboratory setting...

Stainless steel defines a class of ferrous metals with high alloy content to enhance certain...

Benefit of Material to Systems Application

Laboratory applications require clean, particle free environments. Stainless steel pipe’s corrosion resistance and anti-bacterial qualities allow it to deliver lab gases while maintaining their purity. Although copper has traditionally been the piping material used for lab gas applications, stainless steel may be used when highly corrosive environments exist.

An inherent benefit of the stainless steel family of materials is that it covers materials of many different chemistries, permitting economical alternatives to higher end alloys and providing greater corrosion resistance to a wide variety of chemical services and environments, as well as providing increased material strength.  However, many labs are now using gas generators, which are small, portable, table-top gas delivery devices.

System Application and Material Usage

Nitrogen, hydrogen, and pure air are some of the gases delivered to the labs in pharmaceutical, medical and other research and testing facilities. Lab gas pressures generally range from 30 psi for compressed air to 160 psi for some nitrogen applications. The system working pressure and pipe joining method will determine the required pipe wall thickness for each application.

Stainless steel pipe may be installed using a variety of joining methods including grooved, welded, flanged, threaded and other mechanical joining methods.

Stainless steel pipe in general is available in diameters up to 36 inches with dimensions ranging from Schedule 5S to 160S with Schedule 10S being the most common. Schedule designations indicate the pressure capacity of the pipe. When specifying the Schedule of stainless steel pipe, an “S” is added after the Schedule number to differentiate stainless steel from other steel pipe.

Stainless steel is the generic name for a number of different steels used primarily because of their corrosion resistant properties. All stainless steels contain a varying percentage of chromium, molybdenum and nickel.

The most common "family" of stainless steel is austenitic, which includes the stainless steel pipes made to the specifications of ASTM A312 in Types 304/304L and 316/316L. Types 304/304L are for general corrosion applications. Types 316/316L have a higher corrosion resistance to chlorides and may be desired based upon the chemical composition of the laboratory gas. The “L” designation means that the stainless steel contains less than 0.03% carbon. This is beneficial if the pipe needs to be welded.

An additional source for general information on stainless steel is http://www.stainless-steel-world.net/.

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