The 3 Most Common Types of Pressure Vessels

Pressure vessels are used in a variety of industries to manufacture many of the items that are used on a daily basis the world over.

However, these vessels are largely unknown as an important component of the process that creates those products. Without them, many of the industrial and commercial products manufactured today would be directly impacted both physically and economically.

When it comes to pressure vessels, many of us involved with their use think they must come in a variety of designs when, in fact, they can be grouped into three common types.

Let’s take a look at the different types of pressure vessels and what each of them is used for.

Storage Vessels

The most common type of pressure vessel is a storage vessel. 

They’re usually either horizontal or vertical in orientation and are used primarily for the storage of components in a liquid state. For example, think of the fuels used in transportation, or the plastics used to create shopping bags. 

However, they’re also used to store components in a gaseous state, such as hydrocarbons while being processed into fuels, or air that is used to press the shopping bag into a film. 

Depending on the component being stored, these industrial vessels come in many different sizes and are manufactured from a wide variety of materials, with carbon and stainless steel being the most common types.

Process Vessels

Process vessels are used in many industrial industries to process components into various states during the manufacturing process. 

They can be used to:

  • Break down components. 
    • Examples: Breaking down crude oil into fuel oils, lubricants, diesel, kerosene, and gasoline. 
  • Combine components
    • Examples: Mixing slurry and ash to manufacture autoclave aerated concrete blocks.
  • Remove various elements or aspects of a product. 
    • Examples: Adding preservatives to lumber to remove the aspect of rot or decay that wood is susceptible to if left in a natural state.

Process vessels are even more varied in their design and the materials used in the manufacture of them compared to storage vessels. Some designs include separate sections in the vessel, such as a distillation column, or have doors on the end, such as an autoclave. 

They’re used in conjunction with storage vessels and the final vessel type, heat exchangers.

Heat Exchangers

As the name implies, pressure vessels known as heat exchangers are used to either remove or add heat to a component. 

Wood treaters use them to heat up green lumber to remove water from the lumber to dry it out. Boilers use them to heat up water. 

Your air conditioning unit in your home? Yep, it’s a heat exchanger, too. 

The post on explaining that stuff, titled heat exchangers, gives us a great definition of its use, “A heat exchanger is a device that allows heat from a fluid (a liquid or a gas) to pass to a second fluid (another liquid or gas) without the two fluids having to mix together or come into direct contact.” 

As this definition describes, heat exchangers are unique pressure vessels in that they must keep the two slides from interacting with each other. Therefore the design and materials used within them must be chosen carefully for the exchanger to work at peak optimization.

One Source for All of Your Pressure Vessel Needs

Whether it is a pressure vessel for storage, processing, or heat exchanging, Tank Fab is your one source for all of your pressure vessel needs. 

Not only can we provide you with your pressure vessel, but we are also your one-stop-shop for everything you need to make your pressure vessel work, including piping, pumps, valves, instrumentation, and automation.

Author: Jeffrey Lippincott

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