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Pressure Vessel Applications in the Chemical Industry

One major user of pressure vessels is the chemical industry. They use many different sizes and types of pressure vessels to process, store, and transport chemicals for use in everyday life – everything from bottled soda to the cooling system for the Large Hadron Collider has relied on pressure vessels at some stage in its creation. This guide will help you learn about how pressure vessels are used in the chemical industry.

What is the chemical industry?

The chemical industry encompasses businesses that take raw materials and process them to create a wide variety of chemicals, including gases, oils, plastics, and other refined products. Products made by the chemical industry are used all over the world in almost every other industry – they’re the building blocks of a lot of other processes.

How are pressure vessels used in the chemical industry?

Pressure vessels are most commonly used to transport products, store products, and as part of the infrastructure used to transform a raw material into something new. There are several categories where pressure vessels are often used; some of the most common are listed below:

  • Food and beverage processing
  • Oil and gas processing
  • Plastics processing

The next few sections will talk about some specific examples in each of these categories.

Food and beverage processing

Water is one major example of a chemical that uses pressure vessels, especially if it’s being purified. One way to purify water is to heat it so it turns into a gas, and then condense that gas in another section of the purification system. The water vapor is easier to isolate this way than it is when trying to remove contaminants dissolved in liquid.

Another example would be carbonated beverages. Sodas and sparking water have carbon dioxide gas dissolved in them to create the fizzy quality. Carbon dioxide gas is created and transported using pressure vessels, and added to the flat soda or water using a pressurized system.

Gas processing

Gas processing is usually linked to further processing in other industries, whether used as fuel or as ingredients in another product. Almost all gas production and transportation relies heavily on pressure vessels to compress and store the gas, as well as refine and remove contaminants from the gas.

One application where compressed gases are used is the Large Hadron Collider. It relies on extremely cold compressed helium to cool its superconducting magnets in order to function.

Another application is acetylene gas production and distribution. Acetylene is a flammable, highly efficient fuel that burns bright white. It’s created by combining multiple chemicals that react together to create acetylene gas, which is then purified, condensed, and stored for transportation or distribution through a pressurized gas distribution system. Pressure vessels are used throughout this process to contain and compress the gas.

Plastics processing

Plastics are one of the most versatile materials available. They’re used in everything from pipe network infrastructures to milk bottles to synthetic fibers used in clothing. Most plastics are made from natural gas and oil, among other chemicals.

Natural gas is compressed, stored, and transported using pressure vessels. Pressure vessels are also used to contain highly volatile compounds, or chemicals that are liquid at room temperature but evaporate very easily, many of which are used in plastics processing. Storing them under pressure helps them stay in the liquid state.

Where can I get a pressure vessel?

Pressure vessels are available for some applications off the shelf. Other applications will need a custom pressure vessel made to their specifications. You can get expert-made custom stainless steel or carbon steel pressure vessels from Rexarc. We’ve been around for a century, and we’re experts in working with our customers to make sure their needs are met with a pressure vessel that is well-designed and safe. Reach out to us today with your pressure vessel questions!



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