The Use of Monel Valves in Corrosive Hydrofluoric Acid and HF Acid and Alkylation Processes

The Alloy Valve Stockist now stocks HF Acid monel valves for hydrofluoric processes at UOP and ConocoPhillips Plants
Nov. 8, 2012 - PRLog -- The first nickel alloy was created by the International Nickel Company as well as patented in the early 1900s that ultimately came to be known as the exotic alloy 400, used in monel valves. From this beginning, a number of nickel-copper alloys were generatedone of which became the first age-hardenable nickel alloy. Developed in the 1920s, the alloy is still known as Monel alloy K-500. (

Due to its corrosion resistant characteristics, monel is a favorite amongst engineers who work in the hydrofluoric acid sector, also known as HF acid.  HF Acid is part of the alkylation process that manufactures fuel for vehicles.

Monel can probably be considered the first nickel-based, corrosion-resistant alloy that has been created. Essentially a binary alloy of copper, its ratio of nickel to copper is the same as that found in the ore where it is extracted. Therefore, it can also be considered a puritan alloy. Patented as early as 1906, Monel has seen use in many different applications in many different applications in the last century, from huge naval leviathans to tiny electronic components and from food processing to gasoline production to electric power generation. The alloy as well as its descendants are still widely used as well as it seems likely that trend will continue into the next century and beyond.

In the valve market, monel is at times referred to by its Universal Numbering System code N04400 or N05500.  In forged form, monel is also known as A494 M-35-1 is often used in HF Acid plants governed by UOP or ConocoPhillips.  These valves and associated materials used for handling aqueous hydrofluoric acid are often made to NACE standard 5A-171.  These alkylation plants require the use of approved manufacturers in the process.  These incluye Vogt, Velan, Bonney Forge, Kitz, Pacifc as well as Descote, all of who offer a line of HF monel valves for UOP and ConocoPhillips licensed plants.  Fugitive emissions are a critical factor in the performance of any HF Acid valve.

Most approved manufacturers offer a broad range of Phillips as well as UOP approved API 600 gate, globe, plug and check HF acid valves.  The HF acid valves used in UOP plants vary from ConocoPhillips plants, and each type\category of plant has its own technical requirements.

At the beginningof the 20th century, the International Nickel Company (Inco) was formed through the merger of the Canadian Copper Company of Ontario as well as the Orford Copper Company in New Jersey. Canadian Copper Ontario had extensive holdings in the recently discovered nickel-copper ore mines near Sudbury, Ontario while Orford Copper owned a patented process referred to as "tops and bottoms" for refining nickel and copper from that ore. By 1905 the company's extraction of nickel from the Canadian matte ores exceededthat from the silicate ores of New Caledonia in the South Pacific as well as Canada became the world's leading producer of nickel, a position it probably continues to hold today.

At that time, D.H. Browne, the metallurgical engineer at the Copper Cliff factory, stated that oxidation of the metals in the matte ore followed by reduction of those same metal oxides with charcoal could produce a super alloy made of copper and nickel to which zinc could be added to form German silver, a popular "stainless" material used for mechanical instruments. This process was far more economical than the conventional method of alloying independently refined nickel as well as copper with zinc. Browne, working with Robert Stanley, assistant manager of the works, was successful in developing the process to accomplish the production of the refined nickel-copper alloy. On January 30, 1906, U.S. patent 811,239 was issued to Ambrose Monell, then president of the three-year old Inco, for "a new as well as useful improvement in the manufacture of nickel-copper alloys." As is stated in the Monell patent, the process included smelting, "bessemerization," calcining, as well as oxide reduction.

While Browne's plan to make German silver from the nickel/copper alloy was indeed possible, it was determined that the resulting alloy of about 70% nickel as well as 30% copper-the natural ratio of those elements in the matte ore-had some very interesting properties. The new alloy was silvery white, even brighter than nickel, with a higher tensile strength than steel, as well as more resistant to corrosion in saltwater and sulfuric acid than aluminium bronze. In honor of the company's president, the product was named "Monel" metal.

The fledgling firm moved forward with commercialization of the alloy by outworking production in a way that in 1907 more than a quarter million kilograms of Monel metal products were sold. Just oneyear later in 1908, the company received its largest order to date, that being 119,748 kilograms of Monel sheet for the roof of the then-newly constructed Pennsylvania Railroad Station ("Penn Station") in New York City. The roof was installed in 1909. By then there were already 23 registered applications for Monel ranging from battleship propellers to golf club heads.

The properties of the new alloy surprised many. A Monel shaft in a pump in the company's plant water processing system on New York Harbor did not corrode. The alloy resisted atmospheric corrosion in New York City far better than copper. Monel resisted sulfuric acid so well that it became the standard alloy of choice for pickling equipment in the steelindustry. Clearly, the alloy proved to be worth further investigation and investment. Inco contracted Columbia University to evaluate as well as define the properties of the new alloy to help establish applications for it. Commercial production of Monel products was a challenge to Inco as they had no facilities for thermal or mechanical processing. This was solved by cooperative contracts with current metal processors: the American Sheet as well as Tin Plate Company as well as West Penn Steel manufactured sheet. Central Iron as well as Steel rolled plate, as well as Crucible Steel Company manufactured rods.

The new alloy was not easy to cast. To solve problems in the foundry, Inco created the Bayonne Casting Company in Bayonne, New Jersey. In its first year of operation, the Bayonne Works produced 5,443 kg of Monel metal. Navies of the world became interested in the excellent resistance of Monel to saline corrosion. The U.S. Navy battleship North Dakota was fitted with three-blade Monel propellers 4 meters in diameter weighing 6,800 kg. Each blade was cast in one piece. In a short time, over 40 propellers were cast for U.S. Navy vessels. Other navies ordered Monel parts such that in four years, production at the Bayonne Works had risen to 127,000 kg. Monel alloy components proved themselves in service in the United States as well as British navies during World War I, establishing the alloy as the prime choice for severe marine and petrochemical service to present times.

Monel also contributed to the air war in World War I. The Curtis JN4-D American aircraft called the "Jenny" used a Monel metal water jacket to cool its 90 horsepower engine. And, U.S. military identification tags (later referred to as dog tags) were made of Monel to ensure that they did not rust. The alloy's ability to be sterilized made it popular for construction of medical equipment. As early as 1916, high-pressure steam sterilizers were fabricated from Monel. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, architectural hardware including rooling, gutters, flashing, and ornamental details for large municipal buildings was a major market for Monel. Its use continues today though maybe to a lesser extent due to budgeting considerations.
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Page Updated Last on: Nov 09, 2012
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