How To Avoid A Pressure Vessel Explosion!

Posted by Julian Vance-Daniel on Aug 15, 2019 3:41:00 PM

How To Avoid A Pressure Vessel Explosion
Pressure vessels are specifically designed and manufactured to carry heavy loads of liquids and substances under pressure. These substances can be toxic, hazardous and/or corrosive, so they need to be handled with extreme care. When incidents do arise, the consequences can be quite literally explosive. Appropriate measures must be taken to eliminate the risk of critical failure as far as possible.

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Understand The Legislation

When working with pressure vessels in the UK, it is essential to understand the obligations imposed by statute under the Pressure Equipment Regulations 1999 (PER) and the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 (PSSR). In particular, the focus of the PSSR is to prevent serious injury from the hazard of stored energy if a pressure system or one of its component parts fails.

Pressure Vessel Design

The quality of your pressure vessel components and how these are put together will greatly impact the vessel’s safety and durability. Due to the threat posed to safety, vessel design is highly regulated. Appropriate consideration must be devoted to the design stage, to ensure the most suitable and quality materials are selected and the design of the vessel is optimised for its purpose.

Pressure vessels often house harsh chemicals, which can cause corrosion, deterioration and even rupture when proper care is not taken. Corrosion-resistant materials must be used for these vessels. Finite element analysis (FEA) can be employed at the design stage to locate the more vulnerable areas of the vessel, so these can be reinforced. Deterioration can be compounded by other stressors, such as pressure and heat. Corrosion is particularly ominous when it is concentrated in a localised area of the vessel, which can lead to a sudden explosion.

Ongoing Monitoring & Inspection

Explosions can be prevented by identifying potential issues early, before they become critical. It is a legal requirement to conduct regular inspections of pressure vessels to ensure safety. Before the vessel is used, the PSSR requires that a written scheme of examination is prepared by a competent person and an initial examination of the vessel is carried out. Pressure vessels used in certain sectors, such as oil and gas, attract higher safety standards, due to the increased risk they pose on safety. All components and functions of the pressure vessel need to be accessible for inspection.


Pressure vessels must have a regular maintenance regime in line with manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure continued safe operation. Careful maintenance can increase both the safety and lifespan of the equipment and reduce whole-life costs.

Training Of Operational Staff

Suitably trained, skilled and experienced staff will be able to understand how to operate the equipment and machinery safely, by better understanding the hazards. This will reduce the chance of a catastrophic failure due to operator error, for example, over-pressurising of the vessel. Adequate initial training and ongoing refresher training is therefore an essential part of disaster mitigation.

Safety Features

Safety design features, such as automatic pressure release valves, must be incorporated into pressure vessels, and the requirements of these features can vary depending on the industry the vessel is operated in.

Find Out More

It is, therefore, imperative to work with a trusted and experienced manufacturer who can work on a bespoke basis. At Vessco, our exceptional facilities and innovative staff enable us to work to the most complex and tailored specifications. Please call 01656 750262 or email to find out more.

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Topics: Pressure Vessel

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