Pressure Vessel Testing and Inspection: Do's and Don'ts

February 21, 2017

There's very little leeway when an engineer is conducting a pressure vessel testing and inspection assignment. Ideally, there's just no room for gray areas and ambiguous results. The test and inspection procedure should yield a simple binary result, an informed "YES" or "NO" that imparts unbiased operability data. Intelligently generated checklists and incisive inspections, as performed by engineering professionals, govern this procedure. To the uninitiated, though, we can break these tasks down into a list of Do's and Don'ts, beginning with product deference.

Do Respect Pressure Vessels

This is a powerful construct, an engineered container that's designed to contain a potentially dangerous fluid. Even if that fluid isn't normally hazardous, it's now pressurized to such a degree that it has transformed from a gas into a liquid. Always treat the vessel with respect and adopt any duly legislated safe operating procedures when working on a container complex.

Do Adopt a Distributed Test Method

Use procedural test routines. This includes a visual integrity test and a series of approved electronic tests via the latest ultra-sensitive instruments. Material flaws and seam irregularities are detected in this manner, as are joint defects. A nominal test technology configurations incorporate a radiography rig and an ultrasonic inspection.

Don't Sidestep Active Mechanical Tests

The ASME regulations and several other publications make this point clear: the vessel must undergo a physical (hydrostatic) pressure test. Electronically regulated inspection routines have their place, of course, but the structure must be actively exposed to a pressurized fluid so that any and all unpredictable defects can be picked up before the vessel is certified for service.

Don't Neglect Extraneous Vessel Assets

The vessel's design geometry should reflect the original and updated design drawings. Any weld joints and internal support mechanisms should also follow this structured guideline. Of course, in following these big ticket items, there should still be a focal point reserved for other system attachments. Safety valves, in particular, must be tested to assure proper operability, across the board.

A working pressure vessel is dimensionally sparse, yet there's an astonishing amount of engineering shrewdness ingrained within this enclosed package. Pressure variables, for instance, are rarely fixed. They change dynamically, alter forcefully to create chemical changes and fluid state changes. In adhering to the ASME regulations, and whatever national legislature dominates a particular region, we develop a series of predictable steps. It's these steps that regulate the Do's and Don'ts that govern pressure vessel testing and inspection procedures.

Contact Details

Fusion - Weld Engineering Pty Ltd
ABN 98 068 987619

1865 Frankston Flinders Road,
Hastings, VIC 3915

Ph: (03) 5909 8218

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