Piping Strainers: Applications, types, design standards, materials

What is Piping Strainer?

Piping Strainers (or filters) arrest debris such as scale, rust, jointing compound, and weld metal in pipelines, protecting equipment and processes. A strainer is a device that provides a means of mechanically removing solids from a flowing fluid or gas in a pipeline by utilizing a perforated or mesh straining element. Strainers are very important components in piping systems to protect costly equipment from potential damage caused by foreign particles carried by the process fluid.

The following figure shows various types of strainers normally used in Pump or Compressor Suction lines in the process piping industry.

Pump Strainers
Various types of Pump Strainers
Fig.1: Example of a typical Strainer

Application of Piping Strainers

To ensure against the untimely shutdown of equipment, strainers should be installed ahead of pumps, loading valves, control valves, meters, steam traps, turbines, compressors, solenoid valves, nozzles, pressure regulators, burners, unit heaters, and other sensitive equipment. The most common range of strainer particle retention is 1 inch to 40 microns (0.00156 inches ).

Strainers in Sensitive Static Equipment

Even though static equipment is normally not considered as that sensitive, still sometimes strainers are installed near the following equipment.

  • Heat exchanger
  • Meters
  • Steam trap
  • Spray nozzles

Strainers in Sensitive Dynamic Equipment

For the following sensitive and vibration-prone equipment use of strainer is a must.

  • Pumps
  • Compressors
  • Turbines

Types of Piping Strainers/Strainer Types

Depending on the use, two types of strainers are found in industries.

  • Permanent Strainers and
  • Temporary Strainers

Permanent Strainers

These strainers will be installed permanently in the piping system. Examples of permanent strainers are

  • Y type strainers(Fig. 2)
  • Basket Type strainers( Simplex & Duplex construction) (Fig. 3) and

Y-Type Strainers

This type of strainer got its name from the shape as it resembles the alphabet “Y”. They are low cost strainers and used in pressurized lines with low debris or foreign particle concentration. They can be installed in horizontal or vertical lines keeping the filtering element towards the ground. As the retaining capacity of Y-Strainers (Fig. 2) are normally small, they must be cleaned frequently.

Y-type Strainer
Fig. 2: Figure showing an example of a typical Y-type Strainer

Basket Strainer / Bucket Strainers

Basket Strainer or Bucket Strainers are a closed vessel with a filter screen inside it. They have a high capacity to retain foreign particles and hence widely used. Basket strainers (Fig. 3) are used only in horizontal lines; mostly for liquid services with high flow capacity. Bucket strainers can be independently supported like equipment in case their weight is more, or they can be supported inline from pipe supports. As they resemble the alphabet “T” of the English language, they are often termed as T-Strainers.

Basket Strainers are of three types

  • Simplex Style Basket Strainer (Fig. 3) and
  • Duplex Style Basket Strainer (Consists of two parallel basket filters with by-pass Valves as shown in Fig. 3)
  • Automatic Strainers
Basket Strainers
Fig. 3: Typical Basket type filters

Basket filters can be easily cleaned by opening the top cover. Duplex Basket strainers are cleaned online when the pipeline is in operation simply by diverting the flow to the other filter.

Automatic strainers have self-cleaning baskets that are controlled by using pressure drop setting or times; Hence, the cleaning operation is never interrupted.

Temporary Strainers

Temporary strainers are used for a small period of time. Examples of temporary strainers are

  • Cone type strainer and
  • Truncated Cone type strainer

Refer to Fig. 4 that shows typical cone and truncated cone type temporary strainers.

Typical Temporary Strainers
Fig. 4: Typical Temporary Strainers

Design standards for Piping Strainers

Strainers or filters are normally designed following the below mentioned International Standards:

  • ANSI B 16.34
  • PED 97/23/EC: Pressure equipment design
  • BPVC: ASME Boiler & Pressure vessel code, Section-VIII Div.1

Materials of Construction of Piping Strainers

Strainer Body

The body of the strainer can be made from

  • Forging
  • Casting( but flanges shall be an integral part of the body) or
  • Fabrication

Common materials used for the strainer body are iron, steel, stainless steel, bronze, chrome molly, and plastics.

Piping Strainer Internals

Strainer internal must be corrosion resistant and they have to be in contact with dirt or debris continuously. Common materials used are

  • Stainless steel
  • Special care shall be taken for Produced water service
  • copper and aluminum
Strainer Internals
Fig. 5: Strainer Internals

End connections of Strainers

Strainers are connected to piping by the following end connection types

  • Flanged
  • SW or Threaded

Screens or Filters for Piping Strainers

Two types of screens used in strainers :

  • Perforated screens
  • Mesh screens

Perforated screens

Perforated screens or strainers are formed by punching a large number of holes in a flat sheet of the required material using multiple punches. These are relatively coarse screens and hole sizes typically range from 0.8 mm to 3.2 mm

Mesh screens

Fine wire is formed into a grid or mesh arrangement. This is then commonly layered over a perforated screen, which acts as a support cage for the mesh.

  • Mesh Screen terminology: e.g. 3 mesh screen
  • We shall always ask the process to give Max.allowable pressure drop at % clogged condition.
  • Mesh screens are usually specified in terms of ‘mesh’; which represents the number of openings per linear inch of screen, measured from the center line of the wire.
Example of Mesh Size
Fig. 6: Example of Mesh Size
  • Mesh is not the only thing to be asked for but hole size is also important.
  • Corresponding hole size in the mesh screen is determined from knowledge of the wire diameter and the mesh size

Selecting Mesh Size for Piping Strainers:

While selecting the proper mesh size the following factors must be considered.

  • the maximum particle size that the downstream equipment can handle safely.
  • the working temperature and pressure ranges.
  • the maximum allowed pressure drop.
  • the fluid service or nature of the conveyed fluid.

Strainer options

Now-a days various strainer options are available to the user like

  • Magnetic inserts
  • Self-cleaning strainers
  • Mechanical type self-cleaning strainers
  • Backwashing type strainers
  • Temporary strainers

Y type strainer on various fluid

Y type strainer on various fluid
Fig.6: Y type strainer on various fluid

Comparison between Filter and Strainer

Now a days, the terms filter and strainer are used interchangeably in industries. However there are differences between the two. The main differences between a Filter and a Strainer are tabulated below

Device that eliminates unwanted particles from fluidStrainer Also serves same function
The filtering medium is notmally disposableStrainer use Re-usable filter that is used again after cleaning.
They normally filters out smaller particles (smaller than 40 microns)Strainers removes comparatively larger particles ( larger than 40 microns)
Normally filters remove elements invisible to naked eyesDirts removed by strainers are visible.
Filters remove particle by obstruction as well as chemical actionStrainers removes particles by onstruction only.
Filters use soft media on hard surfaces to remove contaminants.Strainers use hard mesh or rigid materails to remove debris.

Few more Resources for you..

Piping Design and Layout
Piping Stress Analysis
Piping Interface
Piping Materials

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Anup Kumar Dey

I am a Mechanical Engineer turned into a Piping Engineer. Currently, I work in a reputed MNC as a Senior Piping Stress Engineer. I am very much passionate about blogging and always tried to do unique things. This website is my first venture into the world of blogging with the aim of connecting with other piping engineers around the world.

7 thoughts on “Piping Strainers: Applications, types, design standards, materials

  1. It’s really interesting how much variety you can find in strainer baskets. I would imagine that the hole size of the mesh you use should be determined by the location in the pipe. It would need to be small enough to catch any unwanted debris, while also not disrupting the flow of the pipe. Are there different types of strainers for fluid and gas pipelines?

  2. As explained in the post, there are two elements: the First one is perforated plate and the second one is the Mess.

    Now as per post, the Mess will be wrapped around the perforated plate. And perforated plate will provide support to the mesh.

    While purchasing the Strainers, I always came across the term “Perforation Ratio”.

    Can the Author or any other member of the portal explain the term “Perforation Ratio”?

  3. Post talk about the different types of Strainers.

    Can anybody explain:

    # Where to use “T- Type Strainers”?
    # Where to use “Y- Type of Strainers”?
    # Where to use “Basket Type Strainers”?
    # Where to use “Temporary Strainers”?

  4. Author presents exemplary outlook of the subject matter. expertise. no single stone is left to present its case.
    i was looking for selection criteria for different types of strainers.

  5. Dear Sir,
    Kindly explain how to design Y strainer, what are the parameters we have to consider,
    how we derive body thickness, cover flange side pipe diameter etc..??
    please explain.

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