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Pressure Vessels

Overview of Pressure Vessels

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.

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Articles about Pressure Vessels
  • March/April 2015 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Paolo Torrado at Engineering and Inspection Services, LLC.

    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 service, or rerate equipment due to debottlenecking of process units.

  • January/February 2015 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Hugo Julien, P.E. at GCM Consultants, and Serge Bisson at GCM Consultants

    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 pressure vessels back in the mid 1940’s. This article will help you by highlighting the main requirements of, and differences between, the hydrostatic test for new pressure vessels fabricated according to ASME Section VIII, Division 1 and the hydrostatic leak test for new piping systems made under ASME B31.3.

  • July/August 2014 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Jeremiah Wooten at Inspectioneering, LLC.

    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 Boilers Branch was established as the government organization that administered those laws.

  • July/August 2014 Inspectioneering Journal
    By A.C. Gysbers at The Equity Engineering Group, Inc.

    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 minimum thicknesses and corrosion rates are critical in supporting risk based inspection techniques or in setting half-life prescriptive re-inspection intervals.

  • May/June 2014 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Hugo Julien, P.E. at GCM Consultants, Serge Bisson at GCM Consultants, and Guy St-Arneault, P.E. at GCM Consultants

    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?

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  • May/June 2003 Inspectioneering Journal
    By John Reynolds at Intertek

    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 covering material that has changed in the past 6 years.

  • September/October 2002 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Greg Alvarado at 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, challenges he has faced recently and what he feels are some of the biggest challenges ahead for the Inspectioneering community.

  • September/October 1998 Inspectioneering Journal
    By John Reynolds at Intertek

    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 specific issues that we measure.

  • March/April 1996 Inspectioneering Journal
    By John Reynolds at Intertek

    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 third party inspectors to perform boiler and/or pressure vessel inspections, when you have fully qualified, competent inspection resources on staff? Are you having to shut down safe, reliable boilers and/or pressure vessels annually (or bi-annually) just to comply with outdated boiler and/or pressure vessel (B&PV) inspection requirements? If the answer to any of these questions is "yes" for your company, read on: you may be interested to know that times are changing.

  • July/August 1995 Inspectioneering Journal
    By John Reynolds at Intertek

    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.

  • July/August 1995 Inspectioneering Journal
    By Dr. John Bowker at Metals Technology Laboratories, CANMET, and Russell Orr at Metals Technologies Laboratories, CANMET

    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 during service.

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            • News
              International Pressure Equipment Integrity Association, February 21, 2017

              2017 will be IPEIA’s 21st annual conference with a entire week of industry activities. There is a full roster of presentations, including three keynote speakers for the conference.

            • News
              MarketsandMarkets, May 11, 2016

              The global pressure vessel market is projected to reach $184.87 billion (USD) by 2021 according to a report recently released by MarketsandMarkets. The report segments the pressure vessel market on the basis of end-user industry, type, material, and region.

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