Pressure vessel design and construction materials


What is a pressure vessel?

A pressure vessel holds liquids or gases at a pressure that differs significantly from the ambient pressure. Pressure vessel design and manufacture is highly regulated to avoid accidents (as pressure differential can be dangerous).


Pressure vessel design

The first documented pressure vessel design was in 1495 (by Leonardo da vinci). In da Vinci’s designs, pressurised air was held in containers and theorised to lift weight underwater. However, today’s pressure vessels are much different when compared with early designs – the first designs resembling what we see today did not exist until the eighteenth century. Impressively, eighteenth century pressure vessels contributed towards the industrial revolution as they operated as boilers and contained the steam needed to power steam engines.

Today, pressure vessels are used in many industrial applications such as:

  • Oil refineries
  • Pressure reactors
  • Distillation towers

When designing a pressure vessel, a number of features must be considered such as maintenance features (such as closures) and safety features (such as safety valves). Designing and engineering a pressure vessel is a complex task and demands an expert knowledge of the required formulas.

Pressure vessel materials

Steel is the material of choice for many manufacturers producing spherical or cylindrical pressure vessels. Strict pressure vessel standards mean that steel with a high resistance is of paramount importance. Other materials used during the construction of pressure vessels include composite materials or polymers (for example, PET).

A leading supplier of pressure vessel steel

Brown McFarlane is a leading supplier of pressure vessel steel. All pressure vessel plate provided by us is certified to leading grades (European, American and British). In addition, all steel is sourced from Western European mills (mainly vacuum de-gassed, calcium treated and with low Sulphur and Phosphorus content).

Should you require any information about our pressure vessel steel do not hesitate to contact us.