Material Requirements for High-Performance Pressure Vessel Fabrication

October 27, 2021

Even when a fabrication service has access to the finest manufacturing facilities, it's not possible to manufacture a high-performance pressure vessel if it's not equipped with an alloy-strengthened material backbone. The materials require flexibility, again, just like a backbone.  The fluid containment alloy has to be ductile so that the vessel walls can expand and contract.

Alloy Walls

Furnished with high-tensile strength, heat-treated carbon steel delivers optimized material hardness. The microcrystalline structure should be free of impurities and not overly carbon-rich. Otherwise, by using high carbon steel, brittleness issues will ensue. Ideally, ductile low-to-medium carbon steels are better at containing high-pressure fluids. Because of this feature, thin-walled pressure vessels provide corrosion resistant, shock dampened strength, which means lower production costs all around. Then, with fluid pressures on the rise, a ductile carbon steel envelope will expand until the system stresses equalise.

Stainless Steel Just like carbon strengthened alloys, stainless steel comes to the fabrication shop bending machines as thin-walled but high tensile strength sheets. The chromium and nickel reinforced metals in this popular alloy family are highly corrosion resistant. Whether the material threat exists because of a conventional oxidisation attack or a complex chemical assault, stainless steel pressure vessels handle the onslaught. Carbon steels, on the other hand, will likely experience material fatigue when faced with such corrosive attacks. Moreover, there are scores of differently graded stainless steel, many of which are weldable and easy to machine.

Low and High-Pressure Alternatives

Aluminium can be used as a stainless steel substitute if the contained pressures aren't extremely high. Take note, however, certain aluminium-rich alloys are not easy to weld. Even if this issue is somehow overcome, there's always the possibility of a hydrogen solubility issue. This issue becomes even harder to manage if the equipment is intended for a hydrocarbons processing facility. Titanium is a more advantageous material, one that can function under the most hostile operational conditions. Of course, should the need arise, there are several super-alloys available. One such material is Inconel, which is an austenitic chromium-nickel metal that's built to handle great pressures and thermal extremes.

The question asked about the "Ideal Material." Well, all of the alloys covered above fit that description to some degree. Only, the super-alloys mentioned here can be prohibitively expensive. Even steel and aluminium can cause problems. For instance, one grade may be perfectly machinable but hard to weld. Really, for an ideal pressure vessel material, that alloy can only be chosen after the fluid properties and exterior environment have been assessed. Stainless steel occupies a selection sweet spot, but, should extreme conditions require it, there are the titanium alloy families and super-alloys, too.

Fusion-Weld service all industries that require and use pressure equipment within their plant. From small air receiver vessels to large and complex static storage vessels, process vessels and columns used in the Gas Storage Industry, Power Industry, Petrochemical / Pharmaceutical Plants, Oil and Gas Refineries.

Fusion-Weld can develop complete engineering designs in-house based on Clients raw engineering process data and similarly, we work to clients specified engineering packages and technical specifications.

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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