The Importance of Pressure Vessel Inspection to Avoid Potential Explosion Hazard

January 7, 2020

Straight to the point, for this is too serious of a matter to tolerate any distractions, this post turns towards the possibility of an explosion hazard. The pressure vessel industry has worked hard to minimize such potentially life-threatening hazards. No other risk factor consumes the attention of a design engineer more than this prospect. Of course, there are contingency plans in place, but that's not enough, not nearly.

The Legislating of Pressure Vessel Inspection Authority

Due to the seriousness of this hazard, many nations are granting inspection teams additional powers. The powers are granted by national regulatory boards, such as OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) in the USA and the AS 4343-2005 requirements, which are used in Australia to assign pressure vessels different hazard level ratings. At any rate, inspections are mandatory, for these containment units hold back great energies. Under pressure, even water can become dangerous. The supposedly harmless fluid is heated or pressurized. If a metal wall fractures or a weld seam bursts, the explosive release of that hot, pressurized water could cause serious injuries. And this is just water. Think what could happen if a fuel or corrosive chemical were to leak. Even stored at a lower pressure, those unpredictable fluid mediums could combust when they're exposed to the air.

Employ Design Level and Maintenance Level Inspections

After an accident has occurred, before the clean-up work and insurance tangles are handled by a devastated management team, an after-the-fact inspection is performed. This is an essential task, for the reports generated by this assignment will eventually be used to avoid a reoccurrence of the same type of accident. If it's a design fault, the design is improved. For a maintenance or operational blunder, the report points out possible errors, then corrective measures are introduced. Importantly, the goal is to use inspection proceduralism to minimize the possibility of a pressure vessel rupture, to use common design principles and logistics rules to significantly reduce the probability of a containment breach.

If there has been a rupture in the past, and, unfortunately, there have been several, then the findings on those post-accident reports are studied in great detail. Engineers learn from those mistakes. Next, the design inspection team ensures the next iteration of pressure vessels satisfies all current ASME codes. Fittings, including relief valves and maintenance plates, are thoroughly examined. The sizing of the relief devices is confirmed and reconfirmed by the project safety officer. The inspection concludes with a weld seam evaluation and a wall thickness examination, plus an instrument-visualized microcrystalline inspection. But this is just the first of many inspections. Maintenance programs, corrosion checks and relief valve tests, the inspection work is ongoing, never truly finished.

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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