To support the growing use of nonmetallic (NM) pressure piping systems, ASME has recently released standards that address the unique requirements associated with these systems. CARLTON R RAMCHARRAN* looks at five application areas.

Nonmetallic (NM) pressure piping systems have risen in use over the last decade. Recent innovations in material science have led to the creation of new pipes, composed of thermoplastic and fibre-reinforced thermosetting-resins that can handle high pressures and temperatures.

 To support the many industries that are actively using nonmetallic pressure piping systems, ASME has recently released its NM standards, which address the unique design and construction requirements associated with nonmetallic pressure piping systems. The new 2020 edition includes:

•  ASME NM.1, Standard on Thermoplastic Piping Systems;

•  ASME NM.2, Standard on Glass-Fiber-Reinforced Thermosetting-Resin Piping Systems; and

•  ASME NM.3, Standard on Nonmetallic Materials.

The NM standards cover both pipe and piping components that are produced as standard products or as custom products that are designed for a specific application. They specify engineering requirements deemed necessary for the safe design of a nonmetallic pressure piping system for any industry.

Let’s explore some of the industries where nonmetallic pressure piping systems are being used, some common challenges found within these industries, and how the NM standards are helping companies address them.


Chemical Processing

Chemical process plants are one of the most challenging environments for industrial piping systems. The combination of aggressive chemicals and high temperatures can compromise the long-term integrity of many piping materials. This can lead to costly repairs, due to leaks, contamination, and other premature failures. ASME’s NM standards help companies identify the appropriate piping materials and systems for their facility in order to mitigate these risks. The standards guide them across the consideration process, taking into account aspects such as load conditions, allowable stress values, installation and quality control. Companies need to think strategically about their facilities and invest in the right tools, materials, and resources. This will help their facilities operate safely, efficiently, and effectively over the long term.


 Food & Beverage 

In the food and beverage (F&B) industry, the safety and sanitary conditions of a facility are paramount. Elements of a facility’s design, such as the piping systems used to transport water, air, or the products themselves, should be closely examined to ensure the appropriate materials and components are in place. Otherwise, the taste, texture, and overall quality of these products could be compromised. Investing in the right tools, materials, and resources will enable companies to provide the quality products their customers demand and will allow them to operate in a safe, efficient, and effective manner.

The new NM standards help companies plan, design, and build nonmetallic pressure piping systems that meet essential requirements. The standards guide companies across the design process, helping them take into account important considerations such as what substances will pass through their pipes, the pressures and temperatures they will be exposed to, along with other environmental conditions. For this industry, food-grade plastics, such as high-density polyethylene (HDPE), are commonly used, due to their flexibility, low-gas permeability, resistance to mould, and compliance with FDA and NSF requirements.


Oil & Gas 

Oil and gas companies face many environmental challenges when designing, building, and maintaining their pipelines. From the frigid temperatures and highly corrosive effects of deep underwater sea trenches to the extremely high temperature and pressure conditions found when drilling underground, these organisations require the tools, knowledge, and resources to support their evolving needs.

The new NM standards guide companies across the design process by helping them to think through key factors, such as which materials can handle the highly corrosive nature of seawater across the life of the project or what physical and mechanical properties are needed to withstand strong underwater currents or even seismic activity. The standards provide a single, centralised resource that addresses the unique construction requirements of nonmetallic pressure piping systems along with the many challenging applications oil and gas companies face every day.


Power Plants & Industrial Facilities

 Power plants and industrial facilities create hydrogen chloride and sulphur dioxide as a by-product of different operational processes. When in contact with clouds, sulphur dioxide can cause acid rain to form. To prevent this, companies incorporate air pollution control systems, which filter the gas through a slurry mixture of water and lime, removing the acidic elements from the flue gases. This requires a reliable piping system for transporting the slurry, which can withstand this acidic and highly corrosive mixture.

To support these challenging operating conditions, the NM standards guide industry professionals through the careful selection of materials, such as fibre-reinforced thermosets, which can stand up to these highly corrosive slurries. These standards also help companies identify the appropriate testing, inspection and evaluation criteria needed to implement an effective and reliable piping system. 


Water Industry

Companies in the water and wastewater industry face many operational challenges, including the design, build, and maintenance of piping systems that are expected to be in service for over 50 years. This, in addition to an ever-evolving set of federal, state, and local standards, requires companies to think strategically to operate in a highly efficient and effective manner.

The new NM standards guide industry professionals through important consideration points to keep in mind when choosing a material, such as the method of construction, water chemistry, pressure and temperature ratings, and more.

ASME’s Nonmetallic Pressure Piping Systems standards provide the knowledge and expertise to design and build a reliable piping solution that can save time and money over the life of a project. The new 2020 edition offers a single, centralised resource for designing, manufacturing, erecting, examining, testing, and inspecting nonmetallic pressure piping systems.


* Carlton R Ramcharran is a S&C project engineering advisor at ASME.