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Materials of Construction for Low-Temperature and Cryogenic Processes

By Krupavaram Nalli, Mott MacDonald & Co. LLC |

    Trends in the worldwide chemical process industries, especially a steep rise in the compression and liquefaction of gases to lower the costs of their storage and transportation, have heightened the engineer’s need to have a working familiarity with chemical-process operation at low (nominally, below 0°C) and cryogenic (below –100°C) temperatures. In addition to natural gas, numerous other fluids, such as hydrogen, argon, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, ethylene, ammonia and LPG are commonly liquefied. One key engineering consideration is the choice of materials of construction for such frigid temperatures. Aside from chemical compatibility with and corrosion resistance to the stored liquid, a key mechanical property in the assessment of a given metal or other material for such applications is its toughness, namely, its impact strength. Indeed, toughness can be more important than the tensile strength, yield strength and elongation that play so major a role in specification of materials for more-conventional temperatures.   Behavior at low temperatures At more-conventional operating temperatures, steels are normally considered to be ductile and thus to yield under loads, deforming before an ultimate…
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