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Overview of API 510 - Pressure Vessel Inspection Code

API 510 - Pressure Vessel Inspection Code: In-Service Inspection, Rating, Repair, and Alteration - is an inspection code developed and published by the American Petroleum Institute (API). The code covers inspection, repair, alteration, and rerating activities for pressure vessels and the pressure relieving devices that protect vessels covered by the code. The most recent edition (10th) was released May 2014.

First published in 1958 as a recommended practice, API 510 serves as a guide for internal and external inspections, as well as on-stream and thickness measurement inspections of pressure vessels. The code has grown and evolved over the years to account for innovations in technology, changes in inspection practices, and new methodologies. For example, the minimum requirements for implementing risk-based inspection as an alternative to conventional inspection planning criteria was introduced to the code in the 1990s.

API RP 572 supplements API 510 to provide logic and best practices that assist practitioners in the “how to” inspect pressure vessels.

Industry Application

API 510 applies to most refining and chemical processing vessels that have been placed into service. However, API 510 can also be applied in other industries where pressure vessels are used at the discretion of the operator.

The code covers vessels which have been constructed in accordance with construction codes, such as the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code. It also covers vessels that have not been constructed in accordance with a construction code or were constructed in accordance to a code that has not been recognized. These are often referred to as noncode vessels. Additionally, vessels that were constructed in accordance with a recognized construction code but have lost their nameplate or stamping are also covered under API 510. The code does not cover vessels that have been decommissioned or those that are excluded per section 1.2.2 (e.g. jurisdictionally regulated pressure vessels on movable structures, classes of containers exempted from the scope of ASME Section VIII).

Pressure Vessel Inspector Certification

API offers a 510 certification through their Individual Certification Program. The purpose of the certification is to identify individuals that possess broad knowledge in maintenance, inspection, repair, and alteration of pressure vessels. In order to receive the certification, applicants must pass a two part — one closed-book and one open-book — examination. The closed-book test requires candidates demonstrate an everyday working knowledge of API 510 and related documents. The open-book test requires candidates to show proficiency in more detailed issues where answers aren’t normally memorized but can be found in relevant documents.

In order to sit for the exam, applicants must meet minimum education and experience requirements. Applicants with no formal education can apply to sit for the exam after acquiring 5 years of relevant industry experience. An applicant with a high school diploma or equivalent can apply after acquiring 3 years of relevant industry experience. Applicants with 2 year degrees or certificates in engineering or technology require 2 years of relevant experience. Those holding a bachelor of science or higher degree must have 1 year of experience. All applicants must have at least 1 year of experience supervising or performing inspection activities described in API 510. In order to maintain certification, pressure vessel inspectors must apply for recertification every 3 years.

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