What Are Pressure Vessels?


Pressure Vessel Fabrication

The term pressure vessels refers to enclosed containers that offer the capability of accommodating liquids, vapors, and gases at a pressure that is significantly higher or lower than that of the ambient air pressure. It is widely used in a wide range of industries, such as the petrochemical industry, the oil and gas industry, the chemical industry, and the food processing industry. There are many types of pressure vessels, such as reactors, flash drums, separators, and heat exchangers, which come under the umbrella of pressure vessels.

The purpose of pressure vessels is to store liquids or gases in an environment where leaks can be prevented. These containers have been produced in a wide range of sizes and shapes for various purposes. A typical pressure vessel model is a long cylinder with two heads. The geometries preferred for these models are spherical, conical, and cylindrical. In addition, these systems have differing operating temperatures as well as working at internal pressures that are higher or lower than air pressures.

Process industry uses leak-tight pressure vessels to hold substances that may change phase like water to vapour. In such pressure containers, the substance is required to be leak-tight. If the substance is to be mixed with another chemical substance in the reactor pressure vessel, it is possible for it to undergo the required chemical reaction. In order to prevent the possible bursting or cracking of the vessel during these types of conditions in the pressure vessel, which could cause the entire operation of the manufacturing process to be ruined, it is important to make the vessel as safe as possible.

Fabrication of Pressure Vessels

During the construction process of a vessel, metal sheets are forged, rolled, and welded together to create the vessel shell and its heads. Based on the factors cited above, the thickness of the metal sheet is the wall thickness, which can be determined through a thorough calculation. For the pressure vessel to be fully functional, it must be equipped with the following auxiliary equipment, devices, and accessories

When building a pressure vessel, it may be necessary for some or all of the following steps to be taken in order to assemble, fabricate, or tack the welded metal parts in place. The first step of fabrication is to choose the raw materials that are going to be used. These include plates, pipes, Forgings, structural shapes, welding rods and wires are just a few examples.

 Once the required number of plates are cut, they are then cut into the needed widths and lengths, depending on the thickness and length required for the vessel shells. A specialized torch is used to cut the steel. Torches can be used for cutting a variety of materials, as well as the edge quality required. A bevel is usually cut on the edges at this stage. The raw material is first cut according to the specification, then the material is then machined as per the specifications.

During the rolling process, the cut plates are rolled into cylinders with the desired diameters. 

Normally, the cylinders are rolled cold, but can also be rolled hot in order to use plate rolls with smaller capacities. After that, the long seams of the cylinders are welded together. Submerged arc welding is usually used to perform this task. The next step consists of fitting and welding the pressure vessel cylinders which are normally carried out with the use of submerged arc welding. All welding operations should be carried out by only trained and certified welders. As a result, you will have to use more than one shell in order to achieve the desired vessel length, so this is only necessary if more than one shell is required.

After the plates for the pressure vessel heads are cut and formed, the next step is to form them. You can use a variety of cutting torches to cut them. Following the formation of the pressure vessel heads, submerged arc welding is usually used for assembly and welding them to the shell, typically flanging and spinning or press forming. A quality control test is conducted after every welding operation to ensure that the integrity of the weld has been maintained by using non-destructive testing techniques after every welding operation.

During the next step, holes will have to be cut to accommodate the vessel nozzles that have been added. In order to install some of the nozzles, holes will need to be cut into the steel plate. This is usually done with a plasma-arc or an oxy-acetylene cutting torch, followed by a manual grinder.

After the installation of the nozzles, it is necessary to weld the nozzles to the reinforcement pads by applying a manual wire welding technique. Once the reinforcement pads and the nozzles have been welded, the structural supports and lifting devices are It is normally welded on by hand with wire welding techniques. Following this, final quality checks are performed using non-destructive tests. For ensuring the integrity of the design, material, and welding, the pressure vessel is tested for pneumatic and hydrostatic pressure. Once it passes these tests, it is dispatched to the customer.

Types of Pressure Vessels:

Depending on their purpose or geometry, pressure vessels can be classified into different types.

Storage vessels.

Generally, storage vessels are pressure vessels that are used to temporarily store liquids, vapors, and gases. A vessel may be used to contain fluids that will be used in a later process, or it may be used to store finished products such as compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquid nitrogen, which can be stored in the vessel.

Heat exchangers.

A heat exchanger is a device that is used to transfer heat between two or more fluids. A wide variety of industries use them, including the food, pharmaceutical, energy, and bioprocessing industries. Heat exchanger equipment operates according to the thermal and flow properties of the fluids involved in the heat exchange process, as well as to the thermal properties of the conductive partition (for indirect contact heat exchangers). The temperature difference between the hot and cold fluids in a heat exchanger along with the internal pressure containing the fluids cause stress to the materials in the exchanger.


 A boiler is a piece of heating equipment that uses fuel, nuclear energy, or electricity as a source of heat to transfer heat between two locations. The type of heat exchanger usually consists of an enclosed vessel that allows heat to be transferred from the source to the fluid inside. The main purpose of these devices is to heat liquids. It is often the case that inside the boiler, the fluid undergoes a phase transformation from the liquid phase to the vapor phase. The vapor that is generated by the boiler is used for a variety of heating applications as well as to generate electricity. Boilers that generate steam at high pressure are used to accelerate the blades of a turbine generating steam at elevated pressure. Due to the high pressure and thermal stress that will be applied to the boiler vessel, it must have a high level of strength. The strength of the majority of materials decreases as the temperature increases for the majority of materials.

Process Vessels.

A process vessel is a type of pressure vessel that falls into a broad classification of pressure vessels. These are containers in which industrial processes take place, such as mixing and agitation, decantation, distillation and mass separation, and chemical reactions. In a process vessel, the change in internal pressure is a result of the nature of the process carried out and the transformation of the substances that are involved in the process. The following are a few of the special types of process vessels that are available:

  • Distillation columns
    The ability to separate a mixture of liquids based on their differences in volatilities can assist in the separation of a mixture of liquids. It is important to note that there are two types of distillation processes. There will be a great deal of influence on the design of the pressure vessel based on the type of distillation process:
    • Flash distillation
      The process involves the heating of a highly pressurized liquid mixture stream followed by the separation of the vaporization of the more volatile component in a flash chamber after the mixture has been heated. A valve is used to pass the heated mixture through, and it is the pressure drop across the valve that leads to a partial vaporization of the fluid as it passes through the valve. In the flash chamber, the vapor will be collected in the overhead of the chamber while the liquid will settle at the bottom of the chamber.
    • There are several points at which one or more liquid mixture streams enter the column in the process of column distillation or fractional distillation. Through the holes in the internals of the column, as a liquid stream flows down the column, it comes into contact with the rising vapor coming from the bottom of the column as it flows down the column. The internal components of the column, including the trays, plates, and packings, serve as a surface for mass transfer between the liquid phase and the vapor phase of the process. There are several factors that determine the height of the column vessel, such as the number of trays or the height of the packings that are contained within it.
  • Using decanters and gravity settlers, it is possible to separate a mixture of solids and liquids or liquids and solids. A denser component settles at the bottom of the vessel, while a lighter component rises to the top. It is usually the case that this type of vessel has a narrow cross-sectional area or is oriented horizontally.


  • The purpose of an industrial mixer is to homogenize and emulsify single or multiple substances by using a pressure vessel equipped with blades that are powered by motors. It is possible to mix liquids in a pure form, semi-solids in a pure form, or solids and liquids in a solid-liquid form. In order to achieve homogeneity, agitating equipment operates at varying speeds, depending on how much homogeneity is required. Depending on the requirements for the final product, it may be necessary to subject the mixing tank to elevated temperatures and pressures.


  • A chemical reactor is basically an enclosed pressure vessel that is used to contain and/or stir the reactants, products, and catalysts during a chemical reaction. As a result, they are equipped with agitators or stirrers that facilitate the mixing of the reactants in order to increase the molecular contact between them, thereby enhancing the efficiency of the reaction. In order to avoid the swirling of the fluid inside the reactor, baffles are installed to create an optimal flow pattern within it and prevent the fluid from swirling.