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Selection of Gas Pressure Regulators

Gases can be supplied in: compressed gas high-pressure cylinders, liquid low-pressure cylinders or from low-pressure pipeline supply.  The pressure from that supply must be reduced to the desired working pressure for the application. To accomplish this a pressure reducing valve commonly referred to a pressure regulator needs to be selected. Proper selection is critical for a safe and effective transfer of the gas from the gas supply to the instrument. Regulators are designed to control pressure. Pressure regulators will not measure or control flow. An external device such as a flow meter or metering valve specifically designed for flow control should be used for that purpose.

Selection of the correct pressure regulator involves many variables. All items must be considered in making the proper regulator selection. 

1. Materials Compatibility: Materials used to construct the pressure regulator need to be compatible with the intended gas service. All the wetted areas (parts of the regulator in contact with the gas) must be selected to avoid any reaction with the gas that can cause contamination in the gas stream or 

2. Inlet Pressure Rating: Inlet pressures can range from low pressure in pipeline usage to high pressure from compressed gas cylinders. Regulators used in a pipeline will normally have only one gauge to indicate delivery pressure while a cylinder regulator will have two gauges; one to show inlet pressure and the other to show delivery pressure. An exception to this would be the use of regulators for liquid gas cylinders. In this application, only the delivery pressure gauge would be required since the supply pressure is generally constant. When selecting the regulator it must be capable of handling the incoming inlet pressure. When the gas is supplied from a cylinder the CGA (Compressed Gas Association) inlet connection number will dictate the maximum supply pressure. This pressure can range from 

3. Delivery Pressure Range: The desired working pressure for the operation may range from low pressure up to 15 PSIG to a much higher working pressure (7500-PSIG). The regulator selected must be able to supply the proper working 

4. Gas Purity: Maintaining the purity level of the gas is of primary importance in the selection of the regulator. The selected regulator must be resistant to any introduction of contaminants that can be detrimental to the process. In addition to the proper selection of materials for gas compatibility, the design, assembly and testing of the regulator are critical items to consider in the selection process. Clean room assembly and Helium leak testing are common procedures used to insure the integrity of the 

5. Pressure regulation, single-stage or two-stage design: All regulators are designed to reduce the inlet pressure to a desired working pressure. The regulator can reduce the pressure in either one step or two steps. A single-stage regulator reduces the pressure in one step and a two-stage regulator reduces the pressure in two steps, either may be suitable for the application based on the desired pressure 

Single-Stage regulators are best suited for applications where manual periodic adjustment of the delivery pressure settings is not a problem and the inlet pressure remains constant, such as the case in gas withdrawal from liquid cylinders. 

Two-stage regulators are two regulators built into a single regulator body. The first regulator (first stage) is preset at a non-adjustable pressure to reduce the incoming pressure to a lower pressure referred to as the intermediate stage. The second regulator (second stage) is adjustable within the desired delivery range. The two-stage regulator allows for steady delivery pressure without periodic adjustment, well suited for applications requiring constant pressure from full to nearly empty cylinder.