Chemical plants are a very harsh environment for metals and equipment due to the heavy corrosion factor. Stainless steel is the best choice to withstand the corrosion elements.
Applications at Chemical Plants
Stainless steel is the ideal material choice for a wide range of chemical plant applications. Its strength and resistance to corrosion are incomparable. A stainless steel filter and seamless pipe combination is a mainstay of modern fluid systems. It is also worth considering the benefits of stainless steel not only in the lines and units themselves, but as a larger design consideration. Here are four points to think over.
Stainless Steel is Adaptable
Whether you need to modify process equipment, tanks, or structural elements, you can adapt stainless steel in ways that many other products cannot. For instance, it is relatively easy to re-work stainless steel welded pipe on-site, and retain leak-tests of a millibar per second or lower. In virtually any other fluid system, this would be either impossible to achieve or potentially difficult to do on-site.
Stainless Steel Resists Everyday Corrosion
In any chemical plant, even if your product is inert, you are probably dealing with acids and oxidizers in quantities (if not concentrations) that can damage many materials. Even a daily bleach wash, for instance, can aggressively attack wood surfaces, and over time it can damage concrete, expose rebar, and then quickly start destroying the rebar.
Stainless provides the best overall resistance to a wide range of chemicals, either directly applied or spilled by accident. Forget about heavy industry for a moment: this is why stainless steel is used in commercial kitchens. If deli counter is at risk to spilled pickle juice, we make it out of stainless. So why would you not use stainless for a surface that gets exposed to potassium hydroxide?
Stainless Steel is Easy to Keep Clean
Stainless structural shapes are smooth, non-porous, and robust enough to handle virtually any type of cleaning process. This is a major reason why stainless steel is used in so many fluid systems. You can run many types of liquid through PVC lines, or even store them in an oak barrel. But if you want to clean up afterwards, your best option is stainless steel.
By minimizing the number of cleaning processes, you minimize costs. For instance, if you are cleaning stainless tanks using a sodium hydroxide clean-in-place system, but your workers then need to clean aluminum framing elements, they have to change techniques. This adds time, and introduces more possibilities for human error.
Stainless Steel Pays for Itself
Stainless is expensive, and it might seem economical to go with a cheaper material. You can see this logic at work in many plants, where the lines themselves are state-of-the-art, but they are running through relatively shoddy surrounding infrastructure.
This is a false economy, though. Time is your most limiting factor for any industrial process. If any element begins to fail, it is almost certainly going to cost you up-time. The question plant designers need to ask is not “Does this channel need to be stainless to function?”, but rather “How much will it cost us when we have to replace this because it wasn’t stainless?”
Contact Stainless Structurals
Stainless Structurals has many products to meet your needs when it comes to stainless steel applications in chemical plants and corrosive environments. Call us or contact us online for help on your next project.