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Small Bore Tubing: Streamline Power Plant Maintenance & Enhance Performance

by Katie Reid, on Thu, Jan 31, 2019 @ 14:01 PM

Your own technicians can be trained to manage the tube bending and assembly.

Small Bore Power PlantSwitching to tubing can greatly simplify installation and plant maintenance with any system that delivers steam, condensate, hydraulic fluid, chemicals, pressurized air or other fluids through pipes. For example, rather than 90-degree elbows, you can create gradual sweeps, which minimize pressure drop. To learn more about small bore tubing (up to 2 inches OD) and how it can help with your power plant efficiency, download this free Swagelok PDF:

Small Bore Tubing PDF


Suppose you need to service your steam turbine throttling valves, or change out pilot solenoid valves in your electrohydraulic controls. You want to get in and out of the system quickly. Downtime is lost revenue.

But if the systems are hard piped, you are out of luck. Cutting, welding, and threading hard pipe is slow and labor intensive. A better alternative may be stainless steel tubing.

Switching to tubing can greatly simplify installation and plant maintenance with any system that delivers steam, condensate, hydraulic fluid, chemicals, pressurized air or other fluids through pipes, many of which are 2 inches in diameter or less.

You'll save many minutes, even hours, building any typical configuration involving 90-degree turns and other complexities. And with stainless steel tubing, no special contractors or welding teams are required on the plant floor. Your own technicians can be trained to manage the bending and assembly.

Fluid power efficiency

Hard piping systems are inefficient by their very nature. Hard 90-degree turns (elbows) create pressure drop. Threaded pipe fittings are likely to leak, especially if your system generates vibration or thermal expansion and contraction. These leaks can starve your system of pressure.

By contrast, stainless steel tubing is bendable to precise radiuses. You can create gradual sweeps, which minimize pressure drop. And with automated orbital welding, you can greatly reduce the number of potential leak points or mechanical connections. Where mechanical connections are necessary, Swagelok tube fittings will not back off with thermal cycling or high vibration.

Fast assembly

If you have ever worked with stainless steel tubing in diameters of a ½ inch or less, you will find that the larger sizes are no different. Tube cutting, preparation and bending are the same. Tube fittings up to 2 inches fully tighten and seal with one-and-a-quarter turns, just like the smaller fittings.

For permanent connections, the Swagelok orbital welding system will produce precise, repeatable welds and full documentation of the weld quality. The Swagelok orbital welding system, tube benders and swaging units are all available for sale or rental from Edmonton Valve & Fitting.

With stainless steel tubing systems, a best practice is to assemble permanent, welded connections in the instrument and control shop. Then, move the assembly to the plant floor and connect it with tube fittings. If the tube fitting connections are strategically located, then the system becomes modular. When a particular valve or panel needs to be serviced, the tubing assembly is simply detached at the tube fittings and set aside. Then, when service is complete, the assembly is reattached with one-and-a-quarter turns of the tube fitting nuts.

Almost as soon as the last tube fitting is assembled, a tubing system is ready for service. There is no need to flush the system because assembly does not produce filings and chips like a hard pipe system does.

Stands up to stress

Unlike threaded connections, Swagelok tube fittings are highly reliable under a range of conditions, including high vibration and changes in temperature.

A Swagelok tube fitting resists vibration because it is anchored to the stainless steel tubing with two ferrules, which are permanently affixed to the tubing during makeup. The front ferrule performs the sealing function, while the back ferrule grips or holds the tube over a wide area, enabling the tube fitting to resist vibration.

Multiple applications

Many systems in a power plant can become more efficient by switching from pipe to stainless steel tubing, including the chemical feed system, water sampling system, duel fuel systems, generator and lube oil systems, and hydrogen cooling for the generator.

Ready to discuss how small bore tubing can enhance your performance and reduce maintenance? Please get in touch:

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Topics:TubingFittings

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