A Guide to Pressure Vessel Design 

Pressure Vessel Design

Pressure vessels are widely used in various industries. These containers/vessels are used to store things under pressure. Things stored under pressure want to expand which creates pressure. Any kind of failure of a pressure vessel could have catastrophic consequences. 

The ideal shape of a pressure vessel is a sphere but spheres are incredibly difficult to construct and this is why most pressure vessels have a cylindrical shape with concave ends. This blog post is focused on exploring the various aspects of pressure vessel design.

Pressure vessels have to meet certain standards such as Australian Standards AS1210 or AS4343. Also, some pressure vessels are required to be registered with the appropriate statutory authority depending on the level of hazard. Here’s a quick look at various aspects of pressure vessel design:

  • Design work
  • Presence of external loads
  • Fluid temperature, physical and chemical properties
  • Materials 
  • Maintaining quality control
  • Collaborating with engineers, designers and technicians

Design Work

One of the most important things when it comes to designing a pressure vessel is its shape and size. While these parameters are mostly defined by the team designing the plant where the pressure vessel is going to be used, there are certain things that are decided by the designer. The design of the vessel also covers how the vessel is going to be supported as well as the placement of connectors, nozzles and other such things.

External Loads

The design also accounts for the presence of external loads such as wind and snow as well as the weight of equipment that needs to be supported. The placement of connectors and nozzles can seriously affect the strength of the vessel.

Fluid Properties

The physical and chemical properties of the fluid that is stored inside the pressure vessel also affect its design. The choice of material also depends on the properties of the fluid.


A variety of materials are used for making pressure vessels. Some of the most commonly used materials include:

  • Carbon steel
  • High alloy and low alloy steels
  • Carbon manganese steel

As far as the choice of material is concerned, it depends on a variety of design and operational parameters. Some of the more important considerations that affect the choice of material include the creep strength of the material at design temperature, its yield strength as well as ultimate tensile strength at design and room temperature respectively. 

A design engineer also collaborates with other designers, engineers and technicians to ensure product quality and maintain quality control. The overall goal of a design team is to ensure that the final product matches the pre-set criteria for safety. The engineer also collaborates with the appropriate authorities to ensure verification of the pressure vessel design.

Importance of Pressure Vessel Design

As explained earlier, pressure vessels are used in a variety of industries. For example, the oil and gas industry cannot function without properly designed pressure vessels. These are also used in the mining industry, nuclear reactors and a variety of other industries.

All the pressure vessels need to adhere to certain safety standards to ensure performance and safety. Since pressure vessels store liquid or gas at a huge pressure inside, any failure would lead to an instant release of a huge amount of energy and the contents inside. It could have catastrophic consequences and this is why the designs need to adhere to predefined standards.

Final Thoughts

Here at Sherwood Design & Engineering, we have been providing pressure vessel design services to various industries for more than 4 decades. We specialise in plant engineering, design of pressure vessels as well as certification of pressure vessel design.

Give us a call at (02) 9437 3566 or leave an enquiry if you would like to learn more about our pressure vessel engineering design and support services.