1. Introduction

If you want to learn how to design a pressure vessel and its many components (supports, inner parts, flanges, etc) you will only need a few books and standard codes. Here I’ll show one some of those books that helped me along the way.

First of all, there’s a difference between books and standard codes, while the first is concerned about explaining to the reader how things works, how it’s done, where it can be used, where all the variables from an equation come from and how the author got there, etc., the second isn’t that concerned, because one of the main reasons that those Committees (ASME, ASCE, IEEE, AISC) were created is to ensure the safety of the equipment (ASME was created after many boilers explosion in United States), the operator and manufacture personnel, so you’ll find a lot of safety guidance in a standard code, what to do, what not to do, and so on.

Something that you’ll need to keep in mind is that a standard code is always above a book or paper in matter of importance, because it’s always being revised/updated and, when created or revised, it pass through many professionals and scientists, giving a lot of credibility for it. Another thing, and most important, you are required to use it by law, for example, in the United States you must use ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code (BPVC), in Brazil you must use NR-13, in the United Kingdom you must use BS-5500, and so on.

That said, if you want to learn how to design a pressure vessel, first read the books about the subject and then read the standard codes (beside being an United States standard code, the ASME BPVC is used all around the world, mainly because it’s the most complete compared to the other standards). I remember when I was learning how to design a custom flange according to the ASME BPVC Section VIII Appendix 2 and I saw a bunch of coefficients, which made me think: “where the f*** those guys find these things? do they find it analytically? maybe from lab tests?”, then I posted this question in a well known engineering forum (with a lot of specialists) and, well, for my surprise, they didn’t know it either! I finally found the answer in the book “Process Equipment Design” from Lloyd E. Brownell and Edwin H. Young [1] (I’ll not put link to stores because this isn’t the intention of this article, but you can easily find it using Google).

2. Book List

Okay, let’s begin! I’ll list below the books that I used (and still use, when I forget about something) to learn about pressure vessel. It’s not listed from best to worse or vice-versa, as I’ll comment each one in the process, saying the ‘pros’ and the ‘cons’. Many of these books is.. how can I say… ‘old’.. but It doesn’t mean that it’s outdated, because, let’s face it, there is nothing new in terms of pressure vessel design (I mean, there’s some little improvement here and there but there’s no major findings about the subject).

2.1. Process Equipment Design

by Lloyd E. Brownell and Edwin H. Young
Published by John Wiley & Sons in 1959

Process Equipment Design

Process Equipment Design

This is a book that was originally prepared as class notes, used by Brownell and Young in their engineering course (both worked in the Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering Department of the University of Michigan), so it covers from the elementary theories of mechanics and strength of materials to design of high-pressure vessels, in a way that both students and  senior engineers could understand. It also have many practical examples so the reader first learn the theory and then see how to apply it.

One thing that I really like about this book is that in many cases they explain the equations step-by-step, don’t just throw the result in there and let you wonder where the variables/values came from, they do that so the engineer can understand the assumptions and limitations involved.

This book uses United States Customary System (USCS) so, if you are from Europe or Latin America which uses the International System of Units (SI) you may have some difficult understanding some of the examples and tables, but nothing to worry about. Just to let you know, the SI units was created in 1960, one year after the publication of the book but US engineers still uses USCS units.

2.2. Pressure Vessel Design Manual

2.3. Pressure Vessel Design Handbook

2.4. Pressure Vessel Handbook

2.5. Process Equipment Design

References   [ + ]

1.Brownell, Lloyd E., Young, Edwin H. (1959). Process Equipment. London: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.