May 2016

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Engineering Case Histories: Case 90: Precautions when working near equipment

Most machines and pressure vessels are designed with safety in mind, but they can release large amounts of energy if not constructed, maintained or operated correctly.

Sofronas, A., Consulting Engineer

Most machines and pressure vessels are designed with safety in mind, but they can release large amounts of energy if not constructed, maintained or operated correctly. Testing of piping and pressure vessels Pneumatic testing is performed for leak detection at low pressures and small volumes. Hydrotesting is performed at higher pressures for leak testing, stress distribution and structural integrity. Catastrophic failures can occur when pneumatic tests of large volumes are performed.1 Compressed gas contains much more energy than water. A 200-ft3 vessel pressurized to 50 psig with air contains about the same energy as 0.5 lb of TNT, or an automobile driving 75 mph. The energy in the same v

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