Titanium Pipe in Chemical Processing Applications

The chemical processing industry includes everything from petrochemicals and plastics to paints and inorganic chemicals. It has a reputation for being a very difficult industry to work in, but as technology and techniques evolve, new tools have been implemented to make these jobs and processes safer and more effective.

Titanium was introduced to this industry back in the 60s and it quickly became the go-to anti-corrosion material used in chemical equipment and structural materials. Some of the earliest applications used titanium pipe to process aggressive compounds like nitric and organic acids, hydrogen sulfide, chlorine dioxide, and others. Now it continues to be used in several ways throughout this industry, including hydrometallurgy applications and pulp and paper making.

What Makes Titanium The Best Choice?

Titanium is naturally resistant to a lot of corrosives, making it a cost effective solution that can provide an extended equipment life. This has been shown multiple times in a variety of circumstances. One study even suggests that there are more than 300 million feet of welded titanium tubing being used in power plant condenser services. And, in all this time, there has never been a failure due to corrosion.

Using titanium vessels, heat exchangers, agitators, and piping systems can reduce downtime and increase the plant performance by minimizing maintenance requirements and developing better labor efficiencies.

On top of that, the costs to fabricate the necessary titanium components have significantly decreased over the years, making it even more common in this industry for a wide range of applications.

How Titanium Stands Up to Common Corrosives

Titanium naturally develops an oxide film on its surface which protects it from many chemicals that can easily corrode many other metals. Different chemicals act differently, though, but this is how they stack up against titanium:

  • Organic Acids – Titanium is very resistant to a wide range of these types of acids, including: acetic, citric, lactic, tartaric, and others.
  • Organic Chemicals – This refers to alcohols, esters, and hydrocarbons with air or moisture. Titanium can handle them all.
  • Chorine and Halides – Titanium is completely resistant to chlorine and its compounds and solutions. It is also resistant to moist bromine gas, iodine, and other similar compounds.
  • Alkalines – This metal shows low corrosion rates in hydroxides of sodium, potassium, calcium, and others.
  • Water – Even water – especially salt water – can be harmful to many metals. Titanium is not one of them. It is immune to corrosion from sea water.
  • Gases – Titanium displays corrosion resistance to ammonium, carbon dioxide/monoxide, nitrogen, and many others.

Which Titanium Is Most Effective?

There are several different titanium grades that can be used effectively in the chemical processing industry. One of the more common choices is Grade 9. It has a higher strength than many other grades and even has increased corrosion resistance, so it can be employed in environments that are extremely corrosive.

Cleanup

Titanium equipment and tools are easy to clean. The oxide film that builds up on titanium’s surface is smooth and slick, which fights buildup in between cleanings. This also makes it possible to use some strong cleaners on the metal, like chloride or bromine solutions, because they won’t hurt the equipment. Some people even use mechanical cleaning solutions because even if they put some scratches on the surface, the oxide will continue to form. This means, unlike other metals, a light scratch won’t lead to heavy corrosion.

Choosing the Right Pipe

Titanium pipe is available in a wide range of sizes. Seamless pipe is available in 1/8” to 6”, and welded pipe can be between 1” and 24”. The size of the pipe is as important as the grade when choosing the materials for your project, so be sure to get the right materials for the right job.

Resources:

http://www.ticotitanium.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/paper02170.pdf

http://www.supraalloys.com/titanium-grades.php

http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.titanium.org/resource/resmgr/Docs/TiUltimate.pdf