September 2006

Engineering Case Histories

Case 34: Hydrotesting or pneumatic testing?

There is a big difference in safety between the two

Sofronas, A., Consulting Engineer

This question comes up often during vessel modifications. Usually the vessel foundation has not been designed for a water load or the process doesn't allow contamination with water. Project management's argument is that the vessel was designed for a gas pressure so a pneumatic test over pressurization, to verify the soundness of the modification, shouldn't be a concern. This analysis was done to help explain why vessels should be fully hydrotested, localized hydrotested with blinds, or other nondestructive inspection plans used, such as ultrasonic or X-ray instead of a pneumatic test, when possible. The discussion has to do with safety and the high energy involved when pneumatic pressure t

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