Innovativer Drei-Weg-Kugelhahn von GF Piping

Trade press article
Georg Fischer Piping Systems Ltd.
8201 Schaffhausen
Ralph Schreiber
Public & Media Relations Manager
Tel +41 (0) 52 631 3374
Fax +41 (0) 52 631 2830
Mobile +41 (0) 79 830 2803
Schaffhausen, December 2009
Plastics don`t rust
Electrochemical corrosion – the most frequent type of corrosion in metals – is
practically unknown in plastics. Nevertheless, changes in the molecular
structure of plastics can occur if aggressive media are used or if there is
mechanical stress. This degradation can be prevented by means of stabilizers
and the right material selection.
The term corrosion stems from the Latin “corrodere”, which means “to gnaw away at”.
The first scientific definition of corrosion was given by the alchemist and universal
scholar Andreas Libavius (1555–1616) in his “Alchemia” of 1597: “‘Corrosion’ is a
calcination with ‘corroding medicines’, the acridity (acrimonia) of which penetrates
and dissolves the structure into the smallest of parts (secundum minima).” This
definition obviously refers to metals, since plastics had not even been invented then.
The DIN 50 900 definition for the Corrosion of Metals, Part 1 (1982) also pertains to
metals: “1.1 Corrosion: the reaction of a metallic material to its environment, which
effects measurable change in the material and can lead to impairment of the function
of a metal component or of an entire system. In most cases, this reaction is of
electrochemical nature; in some instances it can however also be of chemical (not
electrochemical) or metal physical nature.” But once again, we must reiterate that this
is a metal norm. In the meantime, the term corrosion has become established for
plastics as well. Most of the corrosion types which occur in metals are also found in
plastics. A significant difference is, however, that electrochemical corrosion, which is
the most frequent type of corrosion in metals, the result of good conductivity, is
practically unknown in plastics. In acids and alkalis, as well as in saline solutions or
saline environments, where metal pipes rust through (corrode) very quickly, plastic
pipes have a nearly unlimited lifetime.
Why do plastics corrode?
Plastics are composed of long molecular chains (macromolecules). In order to
improve their characteristics (stability, fire retardation, colour, etc.), additives are
mixed in. Weak cross-linking of macromolecules produces elastomers (seals,
diaphragms), strong cross-linking duroplastics. When plastics are damaged, the
bonds in the macromolecular chains are broken or the macromolecular chains are
separated from one another. Additives can slow down these processes (stabilizers)
or accelerate them. Splitting macromolecules or separating macromolecular chains
depends on the structure and the atoms involved in the bonding. There are atom
bonds which are easy to fission and others which are more difficult to fission.
Chemicals can cause such fissures. The temperature plays an important role, as
does the pressure. Rule of thumb: An increase in temperature of 10°C doubles the
medium attack on a material. Other factors have an effect on plastics and materials
in general:
Mechanical stress
- static
- dynamic
- cyclical
- impact
Environment (air, humidity, water)
- chemical media (oil, tensides, etc.)
- radiation (light, UV, etc.)
- microbiology
All these factors can cause plastics to fail. Some, such as mechanical stress, are
calculable and some, such as temperature or environmental load, are controllable
through materials selection. Yet, failures will happen because the component was not
designed specifically for plastics or because the loads were not foreseeable.
Moreover, plastics are not gas-tight. Many chemicals permeate into the plastic,
remain there or pass through it. Aggressive media that are highly diffusive and have
surface-active properties, are particularly dangerous.
Cause of damage in plastics
Non-cross-linked plastics (thermoplastics) are swollen and dissolved, while the crosslinked plastics (elastomers and duroplastics) only swell. If the attacking substance
and the plastic are very similar in molecular structure, the swelling and/ or dissolving
is promoted. Besides swelling, there are other means of destruction. For example,
concentrated nitric acid attacks and destroys the molecular chains, the plastic
becomes brittle. Stabilizers slow this process down. Liquids that have no significant
effect on unstressed plastics can cause fissures when the plastic is under stress.
Often media that are stress crack inducing will come into contact with the plastic
components, weakening the bonding of the macromolecules and thus facilitating
local relaxation of the material via micro fissures. This phenomenon is also known
as crazing and is one of the most frequent causes of damage. The interaction of
tension, medium and material leads to embrittlement of the material.
Material recommendations
A piping systems does not only consist of pipes, but also jointing elements, seals,
valves and measurement instruments. Besides pressure and temperature, the media
transported in a piping system determines which material is suitable. For many
applications, especially standard ones, the decision is usually an easy one. More
difficult, however, is choosing the right material for the more “exotic” applications or in
borderline situations, in which case the behaviour of a system might have to be
estimated. If there is any uncertainty, the job may have to be declined or a limited
lifetime indicated. The more information is available, the easier it is to make a
recommendation. The following parameters and variables are relevant: pressure,
temperature, exact description of the medium, ambient conditions, diameter of the
pipeline, etc. A useful tool is also the chemical resistance list, although it only gives
an indication of the possible resistance of the material and should not be viewed
as absolute, especially for applications in the borderline range. Resistance lists
frequently pertain to pure media or were created in laboratories under ideal
conditions. Experience and results from field tests or studies flow continually into the
media lists of GF Piping Systems. Reduction factors, susceptibility for stress cracking
and jointing technology information are other aspects of the resistance list. If there is
any uncertainty, such as in untypical applications, we recommend contacting the
specialists at GF Piping Systems.
Plastics don't rust
Rust is the corrosion product that results from the reaction of iron or steel with
oxygen in the presence of water. The good conductivity of metals plays an important
role in this process. Plastics are nonconducting, in other words they are insulating
and do not conduct any electricity (or heat). Nonconducting, however, also means
that no galvanic elements can build up. Plastics have a major advantage, particularly
in contact with water or chemicals diluted with water. Water, saline solutions, acids
and alkalis have nothing on plastics. In water treatment plants, in electroplating
systems, for pickling in the steel industry, in waste water treatment, in storage tanks,
etc., plastics can be used for decades without the slightest sign of corrosion.
Hans Jörg Sommer, Head of Chemical/Mechanical Advices and Claims, GF Piping
Systems, Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Georg Fischer – Adding Quality to People`s Lives
GF Piping Systems is one of the three core businesses of the Georg Fischer Corporation and a leading supplier
of piping systems in plastic and metal with global market presence. Connecting technology, fittings, valves,
measuring devices and pipes are used for water conveyance and treatment as well as the transport of liquids and
gases for industrial purposes. GF Piping Systems provides innovative, engineered solutions for the segments
building technology, chemical process industry, food & beverage, microelectronics, ship building, water and gas
utilities and water treatment. Sales companies in more than 25 countries and representatives in another 80
countries ensure customer support 24 hours a day. Production sites in Europe, Asia and the US are near the
customers and meet local requirements. The Georg Fischer headquarters is based since its foundation in 1802 in
Schaffhausen, Switzerland.
Key figures GF Piping Systems 2008
More than 4200 employees worldwide
1066 MCHF sales
Further information is available at