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Size: When determining the proper size of a vessel there are many factors to consider.

Consideration must be given to the available space, the size of all openings through
which the vessel must pass, the tilt up height for vertical vessels, product expansion if
heated, clearance for the turbulence generated in mix vessels, the proper geometry for
mix vessels, and planned future expansion. Oversizing a vessel can lead to problems if
not taken into account in the design. Vessel manufacturers may have preferred
geometry’s and diameters that are the most economical for them to fabricate. When
planning a vessel, it advisable to consult with the vessel manufacturer to get the most
economical design.

Pressure Vessels: Most states require ASME (American Society of Mechanical

Engineers) certification for pressure vessels rated over 15 psig. The ASME pressure
vessel code was adopted the prevent serious injury from pressure vessel failures. Vessel
manufacturers must be certified to construct pressure vessels and are periodically
reviewed for adherence to the code. The pressure vessel code encompasses all phases of
pressure vessel design, construction, inspection, and repair. Authorized Inspectors are
required to inspect and certify a vessel’s design and fabrication. The section of the code
most commonly seen on pressure vessels is Section VIII Division 1, this covers unfired
boilers and pressure vessels.

Shell: The shell or straight wall is the circular vertical portion of the vessel. The vessel
may be of a single shell construction, it may have insulation and cladding, or a heat
transfer jacket with insulation and cladding. For all vessels, the thickness of the shell is
based on the pressure the shell will see (including hydrostatic), plus any additional loads
created by the supports, nozzles, mixers, or other appurtenances. The ASME code has
calculations which govern the thickness of all the tank components under internal and
external pressure. In these thickness calculations, a joint efficiency factor appears which
is dependent on the level of weld inspection. A vessel which has the welds Radiograph
inspected would allow thinner shells and heads than a vessel not inspected with that
technology. The cost associated with this inspection usually outweighs the lighter
material cost. The thickness required by these calculations are based on the minimum
thickness, the thinning of the material during forming, the metal removed by polishing,
and any allowances for corrosion must also be taken into consideration. For shells under
external pressure, such as vacuum vessels or open jacketed vessels where the coincident
pressure is external to the shell, the stresses are much higher because buckling becomes a
factor. On most vessels rated for both internal and external pressure, vacuum is usually
the governing thickness, thus a small vessel rated for full vacuum may, for no additional
cost, be rated for a higher internal pressure. Vacuum support rings attached to the shell
are often used to allow the use of lighter material and may be more cost effective than a
thicker shell. So far, it has been assumed the shape of the vessel is circular in cross
section. This is the most economical shape to manufacture. Rectangular or square vessels
are typically more expensive to fabricate and must be made of thicker materials as the flat
shape has little inherent strength.
Heads: The ends of a tank or vessel are referred to as the heads. Heads may be of many
shapes such as flat, flat and sloped for drainage, conical, toriconical (radiused),
hemispherical, torispherical (radiused spherical), reverse dished, or elliptical. The most
common head type is the torispherical shape. For sanitary service, it is important that the
bottom selected provides full drainage of the vessel.

Flat and Flat Sloping: Flat and Flat sloping bottoms are easiest to fabricate, but a flat
head has the lowest strength of any head. Flat bottoms are usually radiused for complete
drainage. This radius is usually referred to as the knuckle radius. For sanitary service, a
knuckle radius of at least 3/8" is recommended. Flat bottom vessels may be supported by
resting on a concrete pad, or the may be supported by legs or other supports. Because of
the low inherent strength of a flat bottom, some type of stiffening for the bottom may be
required. A sloped bottom is usually pitched from 3/8" per ft to ¾’ per ft for easy
drainage. Flat tops suffer from low strength and puddling issues. Flat tops which have
many fittings or large openings are subject to severe warpage from the heat of welding.
For pressure vessels, flat heads can get fairly thick.

Conical and Toriconical: Conical and toriconical heads possess more inherent strength
than flat heads. Conical heads are easier to fabricate than toriconical heads, but are
generally considered less sanitary. Conical bottoms, depending on the angle of the cone,
provide excellent bottom drainage. For pressure vessels, toriconical heads are preferred.
The ASME code limits conical heads without a knuckle radius to a maximum included
half angle of 30 degrees. Manufacturers specify the conical angle differently, some
specify the included angle, others the angle of the cone in reference to the tangent line of
the head. The larger the included angle of the head, the weaker the head is.

Torispherical: Torispherical heads possess high strength at a higher manufacturing cost.

These heads are sometimes referred to as flanged and dished heads after the
manufacturing process. The geometry of the head is composed of the crown or dish
radius, the major portion of the head. The knuckle radius is the radius to the outer edge.
Often a head will have a straight flange of between ½" to 2" to facilitate welding and
polishing. The standard ratios of torispherical heads are 100-6 and 80-10. These numbers
designate the ratio of the diameter of the head to the crown and knuckle radii of the head.
A 100-6 head has a crown radius of 100% (or equal to) the diameter of the head with a
knuckle radius of 6% of the diameter of the head. Thus a 72" Diameter 100-6 head has a
crown (or dish) radius of 72" (1 x 72) and a knuckle radius of 4.32" (0.06 x 72). A 72"
diameter 80-10 head has a crown radius of 57.6" (0.8 x 72) and a knuckle radius of 7.2"
(0.1 x 72). 100-6 heads are commonly referred to as ASME heads. The larger the knuckle
radius, the higher the strength of the head (allowing thinner material). The deeper the
head, the more difficult it is to form. Flanged and dished heads provide good drainage.
Hemispherical: Hemispherical have the highest strength of any head type but are also the
most costly to manufacture. Because of the strength of the head, hemispherical heads are
sometimes stacked together to form a heat transfer jacket. Hemispherical bottom tanks
are sometimes referred to as kettles, and are commonly supplied with scraped surface

Elliptical Heads: Elliptical heads are similar to torispherical heads. Elliptical heads are
specified by the ration of the depth to the diameter. A 24" diameter 2:1 elliptical head is
6" deep. 2:1 Elliptical heads are the most common and can be approximated as a 90-17
torispherical head.

Reverse Dished Head: Reversed dished heads are not recommended for pressure, but are
sometimes used for atmospheric applications.

Legs: Legs are the most common way to support a vessel. When designing any tank
support, all the potential loads must be considered. These loads include: the weight of the
vessel and contents, seismic loads, wind loads if outside, and any external piping or
agitation loads. Leg bracing is an economical way to reduce the bending stresses caused
by seismic or other external loads. The stresses imparted to the shell or bottom head
caused by the leg loads must also be considered. Many vessel manufacturers will add a
reinforcing pad at the leg attachment to reduce these stresses. The foot of the leg may be
adjustable to compensate for irregularities and pitch in the floor, or may be fixed. Vessels
in seismic areas, or outdoors where wind is a consideration, may need to be bolted to the
ground to prevent the vessel from overturning. The use of balled feet, where permissible,
allows for easier cleaning underneath the foot. For sanitary service, the threads of
adjustable legs are often shrouded and sometimes sealed.

Sidewall Supports: Vessels may be supported by means of lugs attached to the sidewall
and bolted to an external frame. The bending stresses created by the eccentric loading of
the lug may be quite high and require the use of a reinforcing pad or stiffening rings
wrapped around the shell above and below the lugs.

Pad Mounted Vessels: It is common in many industries for vessels to be mounted on a

poured concrete pad. The pad can be sloped to facilitate drainage, or the vessel
manufacturer may provide a base which levels the slope of the bottom. For wind and
seismic loads, these vessels are often secured to the pad by epoxy anchors. A steel ring
may be anchored to the concrete and the vessel base welded to the steel ring.
Skirt Supported Vessels: Vessels may be supported with the use of a steel skirt attached
to the sidewall. The skirt is usually anchored to a concrete pad like a pad mounted vessel.
An access door in the skirt is a common feature to gain access to the outlet of the vessel.

Portable Vessels: For portability, vessels are constructed with legs and casters for
portability. Vessels may also be built on a portable cart with casters. To prevent tipping,
the legs supports for portable vessels are often extended out from the shell. If a vessel is
to be sterilized in an autoclave, the casters must be designed for this service. Wheel
brakes and swivel locks for swivel casters are often specified for ease of use. Floor jacks
can lift the vessel off the caster and provide a secure footing. Where vessels are to be
transported by a fork lift truck, fork lift pockets are added to the legs for this service.
Vessels can be designed to be vertically stacked and easily transported.

Load Cells: For weighing applications, the vessel can be supported on load cells. Load
cells typically have a strain gauge transducer that senses the weight of the tank and it’s
contents. Some load cells are sensitive to side loads and can give inaccurate readings if
there is any deflection in the tank supports. Legs for load cell service should be
sufficiently braced to prevent any side loads. The piping to and from the vessel cannot be
rigid, or the load cell will not give accurate results. Typically, 3 or more load cells are
used to compensate for any irregularities in the liquid level or vibration, such as from
mixing. The signals from all of the load cells are summed and averaged to give accurate
readings. Stray welding currents can damage the sensitive strain gage sensing elements. It
is recommended to remove the load cells when welding to the vessel, "dummy" load cells
are sometimes available for this purpose

Manways: Most vessels require a means of access into the vessel. This access is required
for fabrication, as well as maintenance. Open top vessels or vessels with hinged covers
obviously don’t require a manway Smaller closed vessels may be fabricated with a large
fitting or handhole to allow for the welding and finishing of the vessel. Vessels can be
fabricated with the entire top hinged (even pressure vessels). On larger hinged top
vessels, hydraulic or pneumatic cylinders can be used to raise and lower the heavy lid.
Larger closed vessels require a manway for fabrication. A very important consideration
when working with closed vessels is the inherent danger of a confined space. There may
be residual harmful vapors in a vessel as well as the danger from welding. Argon is a
colorless, odorless gas used in many welding processes, it is heavier than air. If welding
is being performed in a vessel, the argon gas will settle in the bottom of the vessel and
push out the oxygen. Asphyxiation may result under these circumstances. When working
in a confined space, the proper safety precautions must be followed.

The manway may be installed in the top of the vessel, in the sidewall, and sometimes in
the bottom. Sidewall manways are often obround and have a door which swings in or in
and out. Top manways are typically round and can be designed for pressure service.
Circular pressure manways can also be installed in the sidewall. Typical sizes of
manways range from 16" to 24" in diameter. Pressure manways are sometimes fitted with
spring assist mechanisms for ease of operation.

Venting and Relief Devices: All atmospheric vessels must be properly vented to prevent
collapse. Atmospheric vessels are not designed for any vacuum condition, and on a large
vessel a small amount of vacuum can create irreparable damage. Removable screened
vents are often specified for sanitary service. The sizing of the vent is usually related to
the filling or draining rate of the vessel. Sudden temperature changes can also create a
vacuum condition. On large atmospheric vessels, it is often necessary to have the
manway door open during CIP to prevent collapse. When filters are used as vents on
atmospheric vessels, the pressure drop across the filter must be sufficiently low to prevent
collapse. Diaphragm type level sensors can give inaccurate readings if the pressure drop
across the filter is appreciable, differential pressure instruments are recommended. Relief
devices can be specified for atmospheric vessels to prevent collapse. Sanitary rupture
discs and pressure/relief valves are available.

For pressure vessels, the ASME code requires a pressure relief device. The relief device
must be ASME certified for the service the device will be subjected to. Sanitary rupture
discs should non-fragmenting and are available with sanitary fitting connections, such as
Tri-Clamp connections. The exhaust side of the rupture disc is piped to either a downleg
on the tank, or to a suitable exhaust line. The direction of flow should be clearly marked
on the disc as well as the pressure, temperature, and service for which it was designed.
Sanitary pressure relief valves are available, but ASME certification should be verified.

Outlets and Drains: All vessels for sanitary service must drain completely. The drain
connection is typically a sanitary ferrule. The length of the dead leg, or stagnant portion
in the fitting should be minimized. Flush bottom ball and diaphragm valves, as well as
flush bottom rising stem plug valves are available and should be considered in
applications where dead legs must be minimized. A variety of actuators and options are
available for these types of valves.

Inlets and Instrument Connections: There are a wide variety of sanitary fittings for use
with vessels. To minimize dead legs, the fittings should be installed as close as possible
to the head and sidewall. With fittings installed on the sidewall on vessels with insulation
and cladding, a sloped setback or alcove can be installed to allow the fitting to be
installed close to the sidewall. There are many flush mount instrument fittings that can be
used for instrumentation. Because they are flush with the surface of the vessel, they can
be used on the bottom, sidewall, and tops of vessels. They are useful where the sidewall
or bottoms of vessels are being scraped by a scraped surface agitator. Sanitary projectile
wells are commonly used for temperature probes. There are many types of wells and
instruments that are not compatible, purchasing the instrument through the vessel
manufacturer eliminates any potential fit-up problems. External piping and heavy
instruments and accessories connected to any portion of a vessel must be properly
supported to prevent high stresses or failures at the weld connection to the vessel.

Heat Transfer Surface: For vessels which need to be heated or cooled, there are several
types of heat transfer surfaces which can be applied to sidewall or bottom. The amount of
heat transfer can be knowing the media temperature, starting and desired ending
temperature, quantity and size of insulation, the type of product in the vessel, and the
desired times. Typical heating/cooling medias which can be used in a vessel heat transfer
jacket are: steam, hot and cold water, glycol, heat transfer oils, refrigerants, or any
pumpable fluid. The heat transfer jacketing can be applied in distinct zones to permit the
use of different heat transfer media, and to allow for variable batch sizes. The heat
transfer jacket may need to be ASME certified like a vessel, especially for steam service
over 15 psi. For liquid media, the lowest connection is typically the inlet and outlet the
uppermost. This forces the entrained air out of the system. When liquid media is used, at
least 7 gpm flow should be supplied to each jacket zone, however, higher flow rates may
be necessary depending on your desired duty. For steam service, the steam is introduced
into the uppermost connection, and the condensate pulled off of the bottom. The velocity
of the steam supplied through the jacket depends on the type of jacketing selected.

Mechanical Dimple: A mechanical dimple jacket is a sheet of metal which has a uniform
array of depressions or dimples pressed into the metal. Each of the dimples typically has
a center hole which is fillet welded to the base metal. The dimpled sheet is formed to the
contour of the shell or head, and the edges are welded around the circumference of the
jacket. The thickness and pitch of the dimple layout determine the pressure rating.
Depending on the application, the flow path of the media can be routed for optimal
efficiency, or to clear manways, fittings or other discontinuities. Mechanical dimpled
jackets typically give high pressure ratings, have a low to moderate pressure drop, and are
moderate in cost.

Inflated RSW Dimple: An inflated RSW jacket is manufactured by resistance spot

welding an array of spots on a thin sheet of metal to the thicker base metal. The edges are
welded solid and all other forming operations are performed. The jacket is inflated, under
high pressure, until the thin jacket material deforms to form a pattern of dimples. Like
mechanical dimples, the flow path can be altered as needed. Inflated RSW dimple jackets
have moderate pressure ratings, a high to moderate pressure drop, and low cost.

Pipe Coil or Channel Jackets: Pipe or channel jackets are simply a half pipe, or formed
channel welded to the base metal. The jackets can be installed both in the flat and after
forming. Pipe coil or channel jackets typically have moderate to high pressure ratings,
low pressure drops and moderate to high cost.
Insulation and cladding: For vessels with heat transfer jackets, especially for steam
service, it is recommended to insulate and clad or sheath the insulation. The temperature
rating of the insulation must be appropriate for the service it will see. Because of the low
resistance of stainless steels to chloride induced stress corrosion cracking, all insulation
used must have little to no chloride content. Other considerations include the R value (or
thermal resistance), and the thickness necessary for the application. Typical insulating
materials used in vessel manufacturing are: polystyrene, basalt mineral wool, fiberglass,
cork, polyurethane, polyisocyanurate, and foamed glass. For added protection, there are
several commercial coatings which can be applied to the exterior of a vessel to provide a
chloride barrier. The cladding attached to sanitary vessels are designed so there are no
ledges where puddles can form. Penetrations through the cladding, such as heat transfer
pipes, and fittings may fully welded, caulked or gasketed. For fully welded penetrations,
consideration must be given to thermal expansion of the vessel with respect to the

CIP/SIP: Vessels designed for sanitary service are almost always cleaned in place and/or
sterilized in place by a combination of heat, and the circulation of chemicals over all of
the surfaces to be cleaned. Crevices, pockets, threads, and non-draining surfaces must be
avoided. There are numerous types of sprayballs and spray heads designed for the
cleaning of the interior surfaces of vessels. There are many different cleaning cycles used
in various industries, but most cleaning cycles involve a pre-rinse of clean water, a heated
caustic wash cycle, a post rinse cycle, and some type of sanitizing cycle.

The most common type of cleaning device is the sprayball, a hollow ball with an array of
holes which sprays the interior of the vessel. The holes may be designed to spray up only,
spray down, spray in a 360 degree pattern, or they may be custom located to hit specific
areas. There are 2 types of cleaning actions utilized, there is a cascading action of a large
flow of chemicals running over the surfaces, and an impingement action caused by the
direct spray. The best type of action depends on the surfaces to be cleaned. Both actions
can occur simultaneously. The use of more than one spray device may be required to
completely clean all the surfaces. Agitator shafts, baffles, and other common protrusions
in the vessel can shadow certain areas in the vessel. The undersides of mixer blades are
also a potential cleaning problem. Nozzles and manway openings must also be
considered. Sprayballs which have custom drilled holes should have a means of
positively locating the sprayball to the correct orientation. Sprayballs are designed and
drilled to operate at specific flows and pressures. Too low a supply pressure may result in
the spray not hitting the surface with sufficient velocity for cleaning (if it hits at all). Too
high a pressure can atomize the spray and lead to inefficient cleaning. Sprayballs can be
designed and drilled for a given flow rate and pressure within reason. Some sprayballs
are split to allow cleaning of any plugged holes. For critical applications, the flow,
temperature, and pressure to a sprayball should be monitored to ensure there are no
blockages. Rotary devices often do a very good job of impingement cleaning, but cannot
be validated unless the rotary action can be proven.
Caustic chemicals are hazardous and should be treated with respect. Containing the
chemicals in the vessel during CIP can be overlooked. Hinged lids without gasketing or a
drip lip may not fully contain CIP solutions. Another consideration during CIP is the
temperature variation. Large atmospheric vessels with side entry manways are often
designed to be CIP’ed with the door open to provide proper venting for the tank. The
temperature changes during a CIP cycle can create a vacuum condition. Rapid
temperature fluctuations in a vessel can create dangerously high stresses. Try drinking a
cup of hot coffee then bite an ice cube to understand the effect. A temperature change of
no greater than 10 degrees a minute is recommended.

Agitation: Mixers are commonly used in sanitary vessels to aid in heat transfer, mix
ingredients, or alter the product in other ways, such as gas dispersion or emulsification.
Agitation is a separate discussion, however the geometry of a tank designed for mixing is
important. The tank manufacturer must be aware of the entire process the customer
desires to specify the correct mixer. The rheology of the fluid is important, as well as the
desired mixing levels, utilities available, time constraints, and any unusual environmental
considerations such as explosive atmospheres, foaming, burn on, etc. The power draw of
any mixing impeller is proportional to the fluid properties, the impeller diameter to the
5th power, and the speed cubed. Many fluids exhibit viscosity changes with temperature,
this must be taken into consideration. Before entering any vessel with an agitation
system, proper lockout-tagout rules must be followed. Pressure vessels may require a
mechanical seal for proper operation. Mixer seals are available that allow for the large
shaft deflections and runout conditions mixers are subject to. It is generally inadvisable to
run mixers right at the impeller level. For most impellers, it is recommended that there be
at least 1 impeller diameter of fluid above and below the impeller for proper operation.

A mixer can be best understood as a inefficient pump. The 2 main parameters that need to
be known to properly size a pump are flow and pressure. Like a pump, mixers generate
flow and pressure, but the pressure is generally referred to as shear. Different processes
require varying amounts of flow and shear, simple fluid mixing is usually a flow
dependent operation while emulsification is more shear dependent. Several processes
require different amounts of flow and shear at different times in the process, multiple
mixers are specified to address varying flow and shear requirements. For sanitary service,
the mixer is often designed to be CIP cleaned and may be of welded, non-removable

Cleaning and Passivation: Most sanitary vessel manufacturers are very careful about
segregating stainless steel from carbon steel and iron to avoid free iron contamination on
the surface. It is a fact that every piece of commercially available stainless steel will have
been worked over with carbon steel equipment at some point prior to purchasing by the
vessel manufacturer. For improved corrosion resistance, the free iron left on the surface
must be removed. Passivation is a process whereby the free iron is removed and a
beneficial oxidation layer or film is formed on the surface of the metal. Passivation is a
combination of both a cleaning process and the forming of a protective "passive" layer.
For passivation to take place, it is important that the surface of the metal is absolutely
clean and free of all grease, oil, and any other contamination that may inhibit the
passivation process. Passivation is performed by subjecting the metal surface to a acid to
both clean the metal and form the passive layer. The exact temperature, time,
concentration and type of acid vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. A typical
passivation procedure is to circulate a 20-50% nitric acid solution at between 120 and 160
deg F for between ½ to 2 hours. Other acids such as citric and Phosphoric have been used
for passivation treatments, but the best results are obtained from Nitric.

There are several tests to determine if the passivation has been successful. A common test
is the Copper Sulfate test, in which the surface is soaked for 6 minutes with a Copper
Sulfate solution, then rinsed and examined. Any free iron on the surface will show up as a
copper or pink color. Salt spray and saline tests are sometimes used as a test for
passivation, though not recommended by several vessel manufacturers.

Electropolishing: Electropolishing is the electrolytic removal of metal in a highly ionic

solution by means of a electric potential and current. In layman’s terms it is reverse
electroplating. Electropolishing improves the surface finish of the metal by smoothing out
(or removing) the high spots on the surface. Up to a 50% improvement in the average
roughness height can be accomplished by electropolishing. Another advantage of
electropolishing is the chemical interactions that occur on the surface of the metal.
Electropolishing levels the grain boundaries of the metal, this removes sites for
chemicals, dirt and microorganisms, another benefit is the reduction of surface area of the
grain boundaries. Because electropolishing is performed in a chemically aggresive
environment, any invisible defects in the material before electropolishing will appear
after electropolishing. Furthermore, the metal removal is selective, free iron is readily
removed from the surface whereas Chromium, Nickel and carbon are not. It is theorized
that the Nickel, Chromium and Carbon actually form a Nichrome composition at the
surface, Nichrome has excellent corrosion resistant properties. The free Chromium forms
Chromium oxides that makes up the passive layer. The electropolishing process performs
chemical passivation at least as good with other methods.