September 27, 2017
As we've mentioned on numerous occasions, gas leaks from pressure vessels are either immediately destructive or slowly poisonous. Inimical to public safety, the gaseous compounds starve respiratory systems of oxygen. They combust or act as corrosive airborne poisons. Even a best-case scenario suggests irreparable environmental damage if a leak occurs, so how do we prevent gas leaks? We'll hold back on that answer until we've talked about on-site operations.
Pressure vessels are stable and reliable storage containers. However, they're not immune to damage, not if the storage or processing system is operating beyond the vessels' safety limits. All engineering products are designed with inbuilt handling tolerances. In this environment, we're talking about massive pressures, but there's also an accompanying set of temperature highs and lows that require containment parameters. No matter the processing layout or storage architecture, those engineering tolerances must be observed. If this rule is ignored, a gas leak is not only likely, it's imminent.
In factory checks and on-site inspections must be conducted at project's end and according to an intelligently determined maintenance program. Those checks evaluate the usual system fixtures, including the safety valves that protect the pressure vessel from transient load events. Additionally, visual inspections and electronic instruments are called in to assess the viability of the weld seams and the vessel shell. In the latter check, the structure of the alloy sheeting is microscopically scanned for invisible material defects.
A gas monitor alarm is an essential pressure vessel emergency aid. Initiated by a sensed gas leak, the alarm warns on-site personnel of a pressure vessel breach, then a shut-down valve or pressure release system is operated so that the leak is quickly isolated. Other site protection systems are mandated here, including a negative pressure environment control system and an independent venting policy that works with sprinkling equipment to stop the leak spreading. Again, these solutions are designed as a last resort, one that can't guarantee containment. A leak prevention strategy, on the other hand, stops the hazard from ever taking place.
Valve seals and pipe joints, system gaskets and conduit flanges form an operational frame around pressure vessels. The gaskets and fasteners seal the containment network so that a gas conveyance leak does not occur. As for the pressure vessel itself, all weld seams and sheet metal materials must be inspected according to a nationally accredited set of governing standards, such as the AS 4343, a series of engineering guidelines that assesses every conceivable design feature, even when the pressure vessel is operating on-site.
Fusion - Weld Engineering Pty Ltd
ABN 98 068 987619
1865 Frankston Flinders Road,
Hastings, VIC 3915
Ph: (03) 5909 8218
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