Under pressure for over 80 years

A history of Pressure Vessel Codes at BSI - Part 3

The new edition of BSI's Specification for unfired fusion welded pressure vessels, PD 5500:2012, will be published shortly. This is an appropriate time to have a look at the history of the pressure vessel codes at BSI and how they have been shaped over time. In the third part of this article, we look at creation of BS 5500 and, changes to the BS 1501 to 1506 standards, and developments since.

By the mid 1970’s, BS 1500 Fusion Welded Pressure Vessels had been in place for 25 years, and had been divided into Part 1, covering Carbon and Alloy Steels, and Part 3, covering Aluminium.  BS 1515 had been around for 10 years, allowing higher design stresses than for the British market, which helped export firms. The pressure vessel steel code series BS 1501 to 1506 had been updated several times.

Changes to committee structures

In 1970 there was a review of BSI’s overall procedures. Recommendations included more stringent control over the acceptance of new projects, and the preparation of initial drafts by small panels, trade associations or BSI staff before submitting them to full technical committees.  The enquiry made a careful study of criticisms by the Ministry of Technology of pressure vessels technology and standards in 1967.

BSI accepted there was a need to streamline committee structures and reconstitute them on a technological basis rater than by industry.  A new Industry Standards Committee for all pressure vessels work was established, and was soon followed buy similar moves in other technologies. The new Pressure Vessels Industry Standards Committee coordinated standardization for the national and international industries.

BS 5500 appears

The new committee took the first steps toward integration of requirements for design, manufacture, testing and inspection of fusion welded pressure vessels with the development of BS 5500, published in 1976. It replaced BS 1500 and BS 1515, drawing together their scopes to cover the design and construction for various vessel types in a range of materials. It soon became a de facto international standard, with large number sales outside the UK.

A notable aspect of BS 5500 was its loose-leaf format, allowing the issue of regular amendments in response to manufacturer’s enquiries.  This allowed for authoritative interpretation of the standard, the reflection of changes to the start of art between revisions.

The standard was first revised in 1982, incorporating all technical changes since 1976.  Further revisions appeared in 1985, 1988, 1991 and 1994.

BS 5500 becomes PD 5500

The European Standards Body CEN released the pressure vessels series, EN 13445 Unfired Pressure Vessels, in May 2002.  It was published initially in seven parts, bulk of the standard being in Part 3 (design).  Part 7 was released as a Technical Report CR 13445-7:2002 (Unfired pressure vessels. Guidance on the use of the conformity procedures).  Part 8 Additional requirements for pressure vessels of aluminium and aluminium alloys, followed in 2006, and Part 9: Conformance of the EN 13445 series to ISO 16528 was released as a Technical Report in 2007. BSI adopted EN 13445 in June 2002.

BSI recognized that a need to provide guidance and interpretation during the lifetime of in-situ pressure vessels manufactured to BS 5500 would have to continue after the release of EN 13445, by which time BS 5500 would have to be withdrawn as a national standard in accordance with CEN rules.  It was decided to remove the status of “British Standard” from BS 5500 and to issue it instead as a “Published Document”, which has been the case since.

PD 5500 has a broader scope than does the EN 13445 series, addressing vessels made from non-ferrous materials, and being intended for use in non-European markets, such as former Commonwealth countries where users were familiar with BS 5500.

Pressure Vessel Steel Code Series

BS 1501 Steels for fires and unfired Pressure Vessels and its various parts, was replaced by adopted CEN standard BS EN 10028 Flat products made of steels for pressure purposes through the 1990s. 

BS 1502 which covered steels for sections and bars of pressure vessels remained in force until 2000, when it was replaced by BS EN 10272 and BS EN 10273

BS 1503 on steel forgings continued until 2000 and was superseded by the EN 10222 series.

BS 1504, covering steel castings, was withdrawn in the late 1990s, replaced by the EN 10213 series.

BS 1506 for bolting materials was replaced by BS EN 10269:1999 Steels and nickel alloys for fasteners with specified elevated and/or low temperature properties

BS 1101 – Pressure Containers for Paint still survives

One current pressure containers standard dating back to 1943 is BS 1101. Originally entitled Pressure Paint Containers, the last edition was published in 1977 and was last updated in 1981. It was declared obsolescent for a time, and is now proposed for withdrawal. 

What’s available in the Knowledge Centre?

BSI’s Knowledge Centre can provide access to many of the withdrawn pressure container standards.  Members can view withdrawn standards without charge in Chiswick, and they are available for purchase in hard copy and PDF. BSI members receive a 50% discount, free postage and can buy on account.

To find out more please contact the Knowledge Centre at: knowledgecentre@bsigroup.com or on +44 (0)20 8996 7004


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