From pipelines to common kitchen utensils, the ability to smelt iron into steel has become one of the most important processes around. In 2013 about 1.6 billion tons of steel were produced worldwide, which is more than double any other metal.
Indeed, a look at the history of steel is a look at the history of human civilization and the development of metals to build structures, create tools and, of course, to design and build piping systems. Steel has the widest range of mechanical properties, and the raw materials needed for its production are abundant. Keep reading to find out more about the material that is all around us.
Alloys and Alloy Steels
Alloy elements contribute to the properties a metal has, including corrosion resistance, stress or impact resistance, overall strength, and ductility. Understanding the characteristics of steel as well as the technical data necessary for its particular uses is beneficial to a process piping specialization in engineering design technology. Having this knowledge will help transform your creativity and technical skills into a career.
The most common alloying elements are copper, manganese, silicon, molybdenum, and chromium. These elements are combined with iron to make alloy steel for various purposes. For example, molybdenum (Mo) can give steel more strength at high temperatures. These different combinations allow oil and gas industries to use certain alloys to ensure piping systems are designed to meet the needs of their materials and conditions.
Process Piping Drafting with Carbon Steel
Carbon steel is widely used in the piping industry. Some carbon steel may also be classified as low alloy steel because of the aforementioned options that alloys provide. In general, carbon steel is known to be easy to work with, and it is relatively inexpensive because it typically contains fewer alloy elements.
Professionals working in process piping drafting might know that carbon steels are used in refineries, chemical industries, process plants, and more. There is low, medium, and high carbon steel, and these designations refer to the specific amount of carbon in the steel. There are also high strength carbon steels and low-temperature carbon steels, which can be used at negative 46 degrees Celsius.
Don’t Forget About Stainless Steel
Many students just beginning their process piping drafting courses might think of stainless steel as a household product taking the form of forks, knives, and spoons, but it is also commonly used for piping systems. The most common type of stainless steel is austenitic, which means that it is around 18 percent chromium, 8 percent nickel, and less than 0.8 percent carbon.
Austenitic steel is relevant to process piping because the high percentage of chromium in it is what increases the steel’s resistance to corrosion. This property is extremely important for piping, meaning that stainless steel and chromium content in carbon steel are common for chemical processing, pharmaceuticals, water treatment, and many other uses.
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