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topic 8698

Use of Stainless Steel for Concentrated Sulfuric Acid (98%)

A discussion started in 2001 but continuing through 2014. Add your thoughts to bring it back to the Hot Topics page.


Q. One of our clients in Pakistan is having difficulty with sulphuric acid piping. Please note that 98% sulphuric acid is used for DAP production. They intend to replace existing CS piping with stainless steel either 304L or 316L due to frequent leakage problems. Please recommend the suitable SS material for concentrated sulphuric acid service for ambient temperature. Can SS-304L can be safely used?

Muhammad Javed Akhtar
- Copenhagen, Denmark

simultaneous 2001

A. Hi Muhammad

If one looks at corrosion charts, then either 304 or 316 s.s. 'seems' to be just OK ... but what about the welds? That would certainly concern me.

Further, is the data given accurate for all operations? If the concentrations dip to around the 50% mark, then s.s. gets attacked very quickly.

If, by chance, your piping has a high spot (i.e., it is not sloping down everywhere) where the air could remain and, in time, the acid concentration could drop, then there's a chance you could have a failure. Example ... 93% sulphuric using mild steel piping from a M.S. storage tank in a Toronto battery plant. Failure. Acid all over the roof. Had they in that case used PVC pipe, there would not have been a problem.

However, PVC is not recommended for the higher concentrations of sulphuric particularly if the temperature is elevated. The world's most resistant PVC is the red TROVIDUR (German) which their literature says, if I remember correctly, is OK to 96% or 98% @ r.t.

Other materials to consider might be PVDF and certainly the weldable fluorocarbons.

I would have thought that a heavy mild steel might be as good as stainless and far less expensive.

Food for thought, anyhow.

freeman newton portrait
Freeman Newton [dec.]
White Rock, British Columbia, Canada

(It is our sad duty to advise that Freeman passed away
April 21, 2012. R.I.P. old friend).


A. Regarding 98% sulfuric corrosion: while carbon steel gives generally good service in storage, you can have problems if there are entrapped air bubbles, high pumping velocities, or with variation in concentration. (Shipping manifests often list an acceptable range of concentrations rather than "98.00%".) Very high corrosion may result if concentration exceeds 100% - this is not a joke, read up on sulfuric to find how 100% is defined. Impurities in the acid may also cause variations in performance.

304/316 stainlesses are borderline materials - I have seen problems, especially where mixing with water occurs.

There are various higher alloy stainlesses that have good performance in sulfuric, especially where temperatures will be limited to the range you listed. The type known variously as Alloy 20 (high Cr, Ni, with Cu and Mo additions) is very widely used for sulfuric service.

paul tibbals
Paul Tibbals, P.E.
    gas & electric
San Ramon, California, USA

(My opinions are not related to nor a statement of my employer's)


A. PFTE or teflon coatings on steel might serve well:

Bjorn Larsen
Environmental -

Ed. note Dec. 2017: Sorry, apparently no longer offers such pages.

To minimize search efforts and to offer multiple viewpoints, we combined previously separate threads onto this page. Please forgive any resultant repetition, failures of chronological order, or what may look like readers disrespecting previous responses -- those other responses may not have been on the page at the time :-)


Q. Hi,

I want to ask what is the pipe material for Sulfuric acid service (H2SO4) 98% concentration with ambient temperature Minimum 9.0 °C and Maximum 50 °C. Note, the pipe will be used for draining purposes.

SABIC/IbnRushd - Yanbu City, Western region, KSA


A. Hi Sami!

Ah, didn't you ask about 98% sulphuric back on letter 18942?

Some of the answers are applicable to your question of today ... but to get some other ideas, suggestions, go to the archives #18489.

These pertain to strong Sulphuric. But as you can imagine, I'm very partial to using the correct plastic materials ... and for your personal information, it was Canada who in the very early sixties was the first in the world to invent the successful bonded dual laminate material of PVC reinforced with fibreglass, Alcore Fabricating in Richmond Hill in Ontario ...

freeman newton portrait
Freeman Newton [dec.]
White Rock, British Columbia, Canada

(It is our sad duty to advise that Freeman passed away
April 21, 2012. R.I.P. old friend).

Monel or SS316L for 98% sulphuric acid



Subhendu Roy
- Mumbai, Maharastra, INDIA


A. Yes, as long as there are no chlorides or other halides present, which are particularly difficult to eliminate.

Guillermo Marrufo
Monterrey, NL, Mexico

simultaneous 2004

A. Pure sulfuric acid does not behave like diluted sulfuric does. I do know that temperature has a very significant bearing on how aggressive it is.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida


A. Hi Subhendu ! What Guillermo says may well be right .... but due to the highest copper content of Monel, I'd double check with Wiggin in the UK.

If, if, if you maintain that high concentration, then consider, too, ordinary mild steel. But if the concentration falls, then beware.

Regarding the fumes, sulphuric acid has a great tendency to absorb moisture ... so I would NOT use any metal but just go to PVC. See the archives # 22519 and maybe # 15290.

freeman newton portrait
Freeman Newton [dec.]
White Rock, British Columbia, Canada

(It is our sad duty to advise that Freeman passed away
April 21, 2012. R.I.P. old friend).

March 7, 2008

Q. I am using CS plug valves (RTFE-Sleeve) with SS316 Plug in 98% H2SO4.
Will it give good results in the long run?

Santosh Sawant
- France

March 14, 2008

Q. I am working in Water Treatment Plant of a power generation site in Orissa, INDIA. We are handling Sulphuric Acid (98%) to lower the pH of cooling water. During erection of the storage tank and pipelines we have used PP pipes with FRP coating. Over a period of time due to continuous exposure to all weather condition we find that the pipelines are damaged.
You are requested to help us in gathering more info on pipelines & valves that are suitable for handling Sulphuric Acid (98%).

With regards

Deepak Tripathy
operational engineer - Jharsuguda, Orissa, India

July 16, 2008

Q. In our of our project in India, we have used a carbon steel tank for storing 98% concentrated sulphuric acid. What is range of concentrations of H2SO4 that can be allowed to be stored? We understand that diluted H2SO4 has a faster corrosion effect on the tank material.

Pavan Meshram
Employee - Bhopal, MP, Induia

August 27, 2008

A. Limit CS to between 93 and 98 % and keep the velocity below 2 ft per second. If the storage tank sits idle, for an outage, make sure the tank has a dry gas pad. If it is not covered with dry gas, the liquid phase will absorb moisture. If you are storing 93%, the drop in concentration will end up damaging (locally) the CS tank.

Gray Holler
Chemicals - Beaumont, Texas

November 21, 2009

Q. Gentlemen I work in water treatment industry, recently we are assigned for a big projects, changing the pipe lines that are in contact with sulfuric acid, 98 % concentration; from your experience what stainless steel do you prefer to use, welded stainless or seamless? Your response is highly appreciated.

Thank you

Firas Mousa
- Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

April 24, 2010

A. For 98% H2SO4, Cast Iron works well (esp. for pumping of acid), whereas CS and SS do not. Use of mechanical seals with Alloy-20 sleeve and gland plate is recommended. However if the concentration of the acid falls even by 2-3%, corrosion sets in. Of course, Alloy 20 is the correct choice, if the cost of equipment is not a constraint.

Sudhir Kulkarni
- Pune, India

May 13, 2012

RFQ: In utility plant we are using sulphuric acid to produce demineralized water.
I have a fiberglass portion where after some time the system wash itself using water, and I had a rupture in the fiberglass with 98% H2SO4.
We are now looking for alloy 20 everywhere and no one is willing to supply us. If you know any vendor or manufacturer please let me know.

khalid alwasmi
- shaybah, saudi arabia
^- Sorry, this RFQ is outdated
     View Current RFQs

June 29, 2012

Q. Which material serves best in H2SO4 98% --
PVC, SS 304, SS 316, PTFE?

Dharmendra S Negi
- Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

January 20, 2014

Q. Are there any pipes suitable for transferring sulfuric acid concentration of 98% at 50 °C?

Abolfazl Tokhmafshan
- Abadan, Khuzestan, Iran

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