What is a Pressure Vessel?

Pressure vessels are carefully fabricated, enclosed containers designed for the purpose of holding either gases or liquids at a significantly different pressure than the surrounding air pressure. These vessels have a variety of purposes in the industrial market and the private sector. Pressure vessel fabrication and operation present inherent danger. So there are stringent regulations on the manufacturing of pressure vessels by engineering authorities.  

Types of Pressure Vessels

Hypothetically, pressure vessels can take many different shapes. However, the most common shapes are cylinders, spheres, and cones. The combination of a long cylinder with two caps (heads) is a typical design. Industrial manufacturers usually offer a variety of either ASME standard or customized pressure vessels. Most commonly utilizing carbon steel or stainless steel for oil/gas and water containers. These pressure vessels are classified as Type I-Type IV.  

Pressure Vessel Uses

The majority of pressure vessels are for industrial use. Some private sector uses include hot water storage tanks and diving cylinders. Industrial uses for pressure vessels include distillation towers, hydraulic reservoirs, and containment of liquefied gases. Industrially, pressure vessels can be used for high-pressure or low-pressure containment, depending on the need of the client and the materials used. They can also be used for both cooling and process heating. As well as a means of achieving secondary containment in processing materials.

For use with either gases or liquids, pressure vessels can be used in tandem with electric immersion heaters. Industrial versions of these heaters achieve the heating of various substances (water, oils, gases, and solvents) through direct contact. Immersion heaters can be mounted on a pressure vessel through flanged, welded or threaded connections. The combination of electric immersion heaters and pressure vessels is ideal for heating gases and liquids, as well as for generating steam.  

Fabrication Process

Most pressure vessels, both for private and industrial uses, use various types of steel – particularly carbon steel and stainless steel. Individual steel parts are welded together to make pressure vessel cylinders or spheres. To avoid mechanical compromise through the welding process, particular precautions are taken in determining the properties of the steel that is used in the forged parts. These precautions ensure the mechanical strength of the materials, as well as the soundness of the finished pressure vessel. For example, engineering standards currently require that only steel with high impact resistance for use in fabricating pressure vessels. For some applications of pressure vessels made out of steel, engineering standards also dictate the use of a special corrosion resistant material.

Pressure vessels are also fabricated using a partially load-bearing liner, made from metal, ceramic, or a polymer. This liner not only helps to bear the load of the interior pressure, but also protects the vessel from the contained substance and protects against leaking. Pressure vessels must follow strict manufacturing standards for fabrication.

Fabrication codes are established by several authoritative bodies, including the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the National Board of Boiler & Pressure Vessel Inspectors, and the EU Pressure Equipment Directive. Pressure vessel manufacturers should follow one or several of these sets of regulations.

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