DOT pressure vessels (cylinders) require periodic inspections to evaluate the integrity and safety of each vessel. After years in use, it is important that authorized holders of a Re-qualification Identification Number (RIN) conduct a thorough examination of each vessel. Two non-destructive test methods are generally used for re-qualification: hydrostatic (volumetric expansion) and ultrasonic examination. Ultrasonic Examination (UE) is the most popular and reliable test method for portable cylinders and offers several advantages to equipment operators.
This 2 part article provides information that will help the reader better understand the basics of Ultrasonic Examination of Pressure Cylinders. Key elements of this information include:
- The benefits of ultrasonic examination
- The ultrasonic examination methodology
- Ultrasonic examination use of sound waves during testing
- Ultrasonic Examination Test Procedure Key Steps
Part 1 addresses the Benefits of ultrasonic examination and the Ultrasonic examination methodology. Part 2 will address Ultrasonic examination use of sound waves during testing and the Ultrasonic Examination Test Procedure Key Steps.
The benefits of ultrasonic examination
The benefits of ultrasonic examination versus hydrostatic testing include:
- Reliable and Useful Test Data: The ultrasonic examination equipment locates and quantifies flaw size and accurately measures wall thickness.
- Minimum Down Time: Ultrasonic examination testing can be done without draining the gas product out of the cylinders. After the test, the cylinders can be immediately returned to service without the wasted steps required when hydrostatic testing.
- Limited Risk of Contamination: Ultrasonic examination eliminates the need for valve removal and internal visual inspection, thus allowing the cylinder to be tested with residual product.
- Inexpensive: Quick testing and zero risk of contamination minimize downtime.
- Test Integrity: Ultrasonic examination has been used on pressure vessels for over 20 years without incident. Ultrasonic examination complies with re-qualification requirements of the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). UE is also recognized by ISO standards and other international regulatory bodies.
The ultrasonic examination methodology
Ultrasonic examination uses high frequency sound energy for detection / evaluation of flaws and for dimensional measurements. The ultrasonic examination transducer creates a high frequency sound wave that travels through the test material. When the wave encounters the material’s boundary or a discontinuity (i.e. flaw) the wave is reflected back to the sensor.
The benefits of the ultrasonic examination methodology include:
- Requires access to only the outer surface of the material
- Deep penetration
- High sensitivity
The Jay L Harman Fire Equipment team understands your fire fighting and cylinder re-qualification needs and is ready to help
Jay L Harman’s DOT Hydrostatic Testing and Ultrasonic Evaluation facility and equipment meet all NFPA requirements for the hydrostatic testing and Ultrasonic Evaluation of self contained breathing apparatus compressed gas cylinders in addition to testing ABC portable fire extinguisher cylinders.
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