Inspectioneering

Pressure Vessels

Explore this topic

Pressure Vessels are containers which are designed to hold liquids, vapors, or gases at high pressures, usually above 15 psig. Examples of common pressure vessels used in the petroleum refining and chemical processing industries include, but are not limited to, storage tanks, boilers, and heat exchangers. Each individual vessel has its own operating limits built in by design that it has to work under, refered to as its design pressure and design temperature. Operating outside of these limits could damage the equipment and potentially lead to loss of containment or catastrophic failure.

Because they work under immense pressures, a ruptured pressure vessel can be incredibly dangerous, leading to poison gas leaks, fires, and even explosions. For this reason, pressure vessel safety is imperative. There are several standards and practices that cover the construction, maintenance, and inspection of pressure vessels. Chief among these standards are ASME Section VIII and API 510.

ASME Section VIII is the section of the ASME Boiler & Pressure Vessel Code (BPVC) that covers pressure vessels. It gives detailed requirements for the design, fabrication, testing, inspection, and certification of both fired and unfired pressure vessels.

API 510, "Pressure Vessel Inspection Code: In-Service Inspection, Rating, Repair, and Alteration" is an inspection code, written and published by the American Petroleum Institute, that covers the in-service inspection, repair, alteration, and rerating activities for pressure vessels and the pressure relieving devices protecting these vessels.

When it comes to inspections, most pressure vessels should be examined once before being placed into service and again every 5 years after every alteration or major repair. An inspection can be internal, external, or both and should involve a thorough examination, a thickness evaluation, a stress analysis, an inspection of the vessel’s pressure release valves, and a hydrostatic pressure test. It is also important to perform a surface inspection, examine the insulation and any structural connections, and finally inspect any welds or joints.

101 Essential Elements Banner

Related Topics

Relevant Links

Topic Tools

Share this Topic

Contribute to Definition

We welcome updates to this Integripedia definition from the Inspectioneering community. Click the link below to submit any recommended changes for Inspectioneering's team of editors to review.

Contribute to Definition
Articles about Pressure Vessels
Online Article

The objective of this survey is to determine a benchmark of fixed equipment mechanical integrity (FEMI) inspection department staffing in comparison to the amount of API 510 (or equivalent) inspections for which facility inspectors are responsible.

July/August 2020 Inspectioneering Journal

Pressure vessel design is crucial in ensuring compliance with safety regulations and facilitating reliability and integrity. This article provides an overview of the ASME Section VIII approach to designing pressure vessels.

March/April 2020 Inspectioneering Journal

Field hardness tests can provide valuable information when evaluating piping and pressure vessel anomalies. This article summarizes laboratory examinations designed to gain a better understanding of UCI hardness test results taken in the field.

Authors: Ana Benz
January/February 2019 Inspectioneering Journal

The distinction between primary and secondary loads is certainly important in analysis of pressure systems. But this distinction is also important for plant operations and reliability engineers to keep in mind when dealing with day-to-day problems.

Authors: Greg Garic
November/December 2018 Inspectioneering Journal

In this edition of the FFS Forum, Greg addresses some issues associated with inspection of vessels that have been in service for a number of decades, and offers some tips for reliability and inspection to follow when inspecting these older vessels.

Authors: Greg Garic
Partner Content

FFS assessment techniques are applicable to a wide range of damage types: LTA's, cracks, creep damage, dents, and more. These are very powerful analytical tools that often allow operators to not only keep the plant running, but to keep it running...

March/April 2018 Inspectioneering Journal

Hot spots – localized areas of overheating in pressure equipment – can lead to deformation or even loss of process containment. It is important to understand the effects of elevated temperature caused by hot spots on the mechanical integrity of...

March/April 2015 Inspectioneering Journal

An issue that arises frequently in the oil and gas industry is poor or missing documentation of pressure vessels. It is common in the industry to repurpose old equipment, bring equipment back into operation after a long period of time out of...

Authors: Paolo Torrado
January/February 2015 Inspectioneering Journal

Are you still hitting the welded joints of pressure vessels with a hammer during hydrostatic testing? If yes, then you’re due for a refresher on the pressure testing requirements of ASME Section VIII Division 1 since this requirement was for...

July/August 2014 Inspectioneering Journal

The Province of Alberta has a long history of pressure equipment safety dating back to 1897 when the first boiler laws were introduced to regulate the new technology of steam boilers. Boiler inspectors were hired, and soon thereafter the Alberta...

Authors: Jeremiah Wooten
July/August 2014 Inspectioneering Journal

One of the more common inspection monitoring programs for pressure vessels is to perform thickness measurement at Corrosion Monitoring Locations (CMLs) to allow monitoring of minimum thicknesses and provide estimates for corrosion rates. These...

Authors: A.C. Gysbers
Partner Content

How long does it take for you to receive reports after an inspection has been completed? A week? A month? Does the data come from multiple sources with no way of knowing if it has been manipulated? Traditional inspection contractors do not have...

May/June 2014 Inspectioneering Journal

Inspections, repairs, modifications, or Fitness-For-Service (FFS) assessments on an old, unfired ASME Section VIII (Div. 1) pressure vessel - Which ASME Section VIII (Div. 1) Code Edition should you use?

Blog

I have written several articles for Inspectioneering Journal to help create successful programs to achieve excellence in pressure equipment integrity and reliability (PEI&R).

Authors: John Reynolds
January/February 2006 Inspectioneering Journal

After a pressure equipment or piping failure, it’s not uncommon to find out during the failure analysis part of the investigation that the failure initiated at a welding flaw of some sort.

Authors: John Reynolds
January/February 2006 Inspectioneering Journal

Among other things, a welding QA/QC program needs to ensure that only qualified welders, utilizing qualified procedures are allowed to weld on any pressurized equipment, including storage tanks and piping.

Authors: John Reynolds
May/June 2003 Inspectioneering Journal

Next year, the API Inspector Recertification Program (ICP) will be recertifying inspectors who have held their API certifications for more than 6 years. Things have changed this time though, and inspectors will be required to pass a short exam...

Authors: John Reynolds
Partner Content

Download Pinnacle's Economics of Reliability Report - Refining to see how reliability is affecting profitability.

January/February 2003 Inspectioneering Journal

Welcome to a new series of articles about the ninety-nine leading types of degradation, flaws and failure that can and do happen to pressure equipment in the hydrocarbon process industry.

Authors: John Reynolds
September/October 2002 Inspectioneering Journal

John has primary responsibility for NDE consulting and troubleshooting for BP around the world in the refining, chemical and gas processing industries. We at the IJ thought it might be valuable to spend some time chatting about his background,...

Authors: Greg Alvarado
September/October 1998 Inspectioneering Journal

In this first part of a two-part article, I will outline a process that our company uses to review and measure the effectiveness of our pressure equipment integrity management process. Then in Part 2, next issue, I will "fill in the blanks" on some...

Authors: John Reynolds
March/April 1996 Inspectioneering Journal

Are your jurisdictional boiler and/or pressure vessel rules and regulations too stringent, too costly, too bureaucratic, without adding real safety value commensurate with the time and resources necessary for compliance? Are you having to hire...

Authors: John Reynolds
July/August 1995 Inspectioneering Journal

Late in 1994, the API surveyed their committee on refining equipment members in order to provide benchmarking information on the extent of Pressure Equipment Inspection (PEI) activities and programs underway at member companies.

Authors: John Reynolds
July/August 1995 Inspectioneering Journal

Petrochemical and energy utility industries require a methodology which will allow them and the governing regulatory authorities to make technical and financially sound decisions for the repair or replacement of pressure vessels which suffer damage...

    Videos related to Pressure Vessels
      Events related to Pressure Vessels
        News related to Pressure Vessels

          Inspectioneering Journal

          Explore over 20 years of articles written by our team of subject matter experts.

          Company Directory

          Find relevant products, services, and technologies.

          Talent Solutions

          Discover job opportunities that match your skillset.

          Case Studies

          Learn from the experience of others in the industry.

          Integripedia

          Inspectioneering's index of mechanical integrity topics – built by you.

          Industry News

          Stay up-to-date with the latest inspection and asset integrity management news.

          Blog

          Read short articles and insights authored by industry experts.

          Expert Interviews

          Inspectioneering's archive of interviews with industry subject matter experts.

          Event Calendar

          Find upcoming conferences, training sessions, online events, and more.

          Downloads

          Downloadable eBooks, Asset Intelligence Reports, checklists, white papers, and more.

          Videos & Webinars

          Watch educational and informative videos directly related to your profession.

          Acronyms

          Commonly used asset integrity management and inspection acronyms.