Applications and Materials Selection for the Chemical, Pharmaceutical and Petrochemical Industries

Some of the greatest challenges for materials engineers come from the chemical, pharmaceutical and petrochemical industries.  That is why there is no other market segment for which there are so many Nickel Institute publications on this topic.  Many of our Knowledge Base e-learning tools were written with these industries in mind.

The materials engineer may be dealing with highly corrosive, toxic, or flammable (and combinations thereof) chemicals where not only worker safety is an issue, but chemical release can cause serious damage to the environment.  Materials selection does not involve only corrosion resistance, but also fabrication issues, weldability, mechanical properties such as strength and ductility, potential changes to the material with time during operation, and of course availability.  Often the ability to be repaired due to process modifications, an accident or improper operation has to be considered.  In certain processes, product purity is a very important consideration, so even small amounts of corrosion are not tolerable.  Not the least is the economics of the choice - one wants to select the lowest cost material that does the job.

A wide range of nickel-containing materials are used, including:

  • Nickel-containing steels (e.g. 9%Ni steel)
  • Austenitic (300 series) stainless steels
  • Duplex stainless steels
  • Precipitation Hardenable stainless steels
  • Nickel-chromium alloys
  • Nickel-chromium-molybdenum alloys
  • Nickel-molybdenum alloys
  • Nickel-copper alloys
  • Commercially pure nickel alloys
  • Copper-nickel alloys
  • Nickel irons (e.g. 36%nickel iron, also called InvarTM)
  • Nickel-titanium alloys (e.g. Nitinol®)
  • Nickel containing cast irons (e.g. Ni-Hard, Ni-Resist)
  • Nickel plating (both electroplating and electroless nickel)

There are no accurate figures for the amount of nickel that goes into this segment, but from figures available from Pariser for 2009, it appears to be around 18% of all nickel produced (including recycled nickel).

This section of the website will be expanded in due course.  In the meantime, have a look at our related Technical Literature, our Knowledge Base tools and our related Nickel Magazine stories.