Chemical compatibility refers to chemicals and materials that do not react with each other. Chemical reactions can be useful in the manufacture of many things. However, for the purposes of this discussion, it’s a bad thing. The reactions we’re talking about break down important infrastructure and equipment till it eventually fails.
Failure to check chemical and material compatibility can result in disastrous consequences. This may include a financial loss, injury, or even death. With that said, we cannot stress enough the importance of doing your research before you choose your next level or pressure sensor (or anything else for that matter).
While it would be impossible to inform you of the nature of all of the chemical combinations, we thought we would give a couple of general rules that will help you find a starting place in your research and testing:
- Metals such as stainless steel are not a good match with acids and oxidizers, e.g. sulfuric acid, phosphoric acid, and bromine.
- Plastics like polypropylene and polyurethane are usually not well suited for applications with halogenated and aromatic hydrocarbons, e.g. fluorine, chlorine, benzene, and toulene.
- Be aware of the chemical’s temperature as a material may be fine in one temperature range, but will break down in another. Sensors with metal materials like stainless steel generally handle higher temperatures better than their plastic counterparts.
- Some materials like exotic alloys and Teflon are compatible with a great majority of chemicals, but come with a larger price tag.
Again, these rules are very general and there are plenty of exceptions. We recommend that you consult with other resources such as chemical compatibility guides that are published by chemical companies. We like the Chemical Compatibility Database from Cole-Parmer due to its extensive archive and user-friendly system. Their rating system is straightforward:
- A for excellent
- B for good
- C for moderate effect
- D for severe effect
- and, of course, N/A for no data
However, even a reputable resource, such as Cole-Parmer, will almost always recommend that you do your own testing before you initiate a full system installation.
If you have questions regarding chemical compatibility, give us a call. We have a lot of experience with different chemicals, and we may have a good answer for you. If not, we can walk you through a chemical compatibility guide to help you find a probable match.