PROCESS PIPING SYSTEMS
Rod T. Mueller, P.E.
Exxon Research & Engineering Co.
Florham Park, New Jersey
Piping is indispensable to petroleum refineries, chemical plants, and other process
units. Piping for most process units represents the major item of unit investment.
Typical total erected piping cost ranges from 25 to 50 percent of the total cost of
a unit. Consequently, the piping engineer often faces the necessity of making careful
and realistic compromises between design features and cost without sacrificing
minimum safety standards.
This chapter provides a basic guide to the design of process piping, with specific
emphasis on petroleum refineries, chemical, and other related processing plants. It
attempts to provide an overview of the fundamental design principles used by the
ASME Pressure Piping Code, Section B31.3, Process Piping. This Code prescribes
requirements for materials and components, design, fabrication, assembly, erection,
examination, inspection, and testing of piping. References will be made to other
chapters within this handbook where more detailed coverage of design analyses
and acceptance criteria are provided that relate to the ASME B31.3 Code.1 This
chapter will also provide guidelines for the design and layout of specific systems
typically found in petroleum refineries and related petrochemical processing
Prior to the 1976 edition of ANSI B31.3, this Code was titled ‘‘Petroleum Refinery
Piping,’’ with direct application to the petroleum refinery industry; by inference it
also served as the guiding document for the chemical process industry. The Code
then expanded its scope to include areas where it previously had been used as
reference, and B31.3 was retitled ‘‘Chemical Plant and Petroleum Refinery Piping.’’
With its current 1996 edition, the title of B31.3 was revised to ‘‘Process Piping’’ to
reflect its further expanded scope of including piping typically found in petroleum
refineries; in chemical, pharmaceutical