A Pressure Vessel is a closed container designed to hold gases or liquids at a pressure substantially different from the ambient pressure.
Pressure vessels are used in a variety of applications in both industry and the private sector. They appear in these sectors as industrial compressed air receivers and domestic hot water storage tanks. Other examples of pressure vessels are: diving cylinder, recompression chamber, distillation towers, autoclaves and many other vessels in mining or oil refineries and petrochemical plants, nuclear reactor vessel, habitat of a space ship, habitat of a submarine, pneumatic reservoir, hydraulic reservoir under pressure, rail vehicle airbrake reservoir, road vehicle airbrake reservoir and storage vessels for liquefied gases such as ammonia, chlorine, propane, butane and LPG.
Pressure vessels may theoretically be almost any shape, but shapes made of sections of spheres, cylinders, and cones are usually employed. A common design is a cylinder with end caps called heads. Head shapes are frequently either hemispherical or dished (torispherical). More complicated shapes have historically been much harder to analyse for safe operation and are usually far more difficult to construct.
Theoretically, a sphere would be the optimal shape of a pressure vessel. Unfortunately, a spherical shape is difficult to manufacture, therefore more expensive, so most pressure vessels are cylindrical with 2:1 semi-elliptical heads or end caps on each end. Smaller pressure vessels are assembled from a pipe and two covers. A disadvantage of these vessels is that larger diameters make them more expensive, so that for example the most economic shape of a 1,000 litres (35 cu ft), 250 bars (3,600 psi) pressure vessel might be a diameter of 914.4 millimetres (36 in) and a length of 1,701.8 millimetres (67 in) including the 2:1 semi-elliptical domed end caps.
Pressure vessels are designed to operate safely at a specific pressure and temperature technically referred to as the "Design Pressure" and "Design Temperature". A vessel that is inadequately designed to handle a high pressure constitutes a very significant safety hazard. Because of that, the design and certification of pressure vessels is governed by design codes such as the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code in North America, the Pressure Equipment Directive of the EU (PED), Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS), CSA B51 in Canada, AS1210 in Australia and other international standards like Lloyd's, Germanischer Lloyd, Det Norske Veritas, Sociè(c)tè(c) Gè(c)nè(c)rale de Surveillance (SGS S.A.), Stoomwezen etc.
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