Process Piping: PVC Pipe

Process piping involves non-hydronic piping systems, generally used to convey chemicals. When...

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) piping is the most widely used plastic piping material. It is available...

Benefit of Material to Systems Application

There is more footage of PVC piping used in the world today than any other piping material mainly due to its durability, safety, ease of installation, cost-effectiveness and environmental soundness.  For these reasons, PVC process piping is the material of choice in many process piping applications when conditions of service allow.

PVC piping has been in use for over 70 years. In North American and Europe there have been several Life Cycle Assessment studies done that have shown that PVC piping compared to other piping materials have a much lighter impact on the environment.

Another distinct advantage of using PVC in corrosive environments is that not only can PVC transport a broad range of chemical solutions but the exterior of the piping is unaffected by most chemically aggressive and salt water environments, too. The chemical resistance of PVC is one of the major reasons for its use in process piping for new construction as well as a replacement for failing metal piping systems.

System Application and Material Usage

PVC Schedule 80 piping is used in most process piping applications due to its greater working pressure capability than thinner-walled PVC piping. (Schedule designations indicate the pressure capacity of the pipe.) Pipe diameters are available from 1/8 inch to 24 inch and pipe lengths are normally 20 feet in length. The Schedule 80 wall thickness also allows the pipe to be directly threaded.

The typical joining method for PVC process piping is solvent cementing; however, threaded, flanged and grooved joining systems are also available. Solvent cemented systems are used mostly due the ease and safety of installation as well the joint integrity. If the cemented joint is made properly, it is stronger than the pipe or fitting.

If a flanged joined system is required, the maximum working pressure allowed is 150 psi (the flange pressure limit). If a threaded system is required direct threading of the pipe reduces the working pressure of the system 50%.

To ensure a leak-free system, completely follow the manufacturer’s joining and installation instructions. In testing any PVC piping systems, test hydrostatically—DO NOT TEST WITH AIR.

PVC piping has a maximum temperature limit of 140°F. PVC pipe may be used above or below ground. If used aboveground and exposed to the sun’s rays, it is advisable to protect the pipe with an approved shield. The most commonly used protection is a coat of water-based latex paint.

Other alternate process piping materials available are: ABS, CPVC, PP, PVDF, FRP and alloy-metals. For more information visit the PPFA Website.


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