High Pressure Equipment That Laboratories Use

Laboratories need pressure vessels to perform certain experiments, research, and tests. These containers can hold gases, vapors, and liquids at higher or lower pressure levels than their surroundings outside the vessel. For instance, someone may use a lab scale high pressure reactor to test catalysts or for hydrogenation. 

Safety Matters

The nature of pressure vessels — i.e., working at a pressure significantly different from the ambient pressure — can make your gas or liquid more hazardous to humans. A vessel that doesn’t meet industry standards can cause serious and even fatal accidents (e.g., unwanted exposure to a hazardous material that leaks from the container). 

In the US, pressure vessels, steam sterilizers, and autoclaves that operate a pressure level of more than 15 psig or if their size exceeds 5 cubic feet are regulated by that State’s Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code. This code is designed to test if a piece of equipment can withstand various chemical reactions such as compression, cooling, and heating. 

Smaller vessels and autoclaves must also be certified by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and Underwriters Laboratory (UL) for any electronics components. Always use an ASME pressure vessel manufacturer when getting your equipment fabricated.

Some Equipment That Labs Use

There are different devices that have become a staple in many labs found in manufacturing and industrial settings. These include: 

Storage vessels. As their name says, these vessels hold liquids, gases, and vapors safely, albeit temporarily. 

Heat exchangers. People use heat exchangers to transfer heat between two fluids. You can commonly see this type of vessel in energy, bioprocessing, food, and pharmaceutical facilities. 

Boilers. These heat transfer devices use fuel, electrical, or nuclear power to generate heat. The heat is then used to boil a liquid; the vapor produced is utilized for different applications (e.g., power generation). 

Process vessels. These vessels facilitate various industrial processes. Process vessel is a broad term that comprises different types of vessels, including distillation columns, decanters, gravity settlers, industrial mixers, and chemical reactors. 

CO2 extraction equipment. A CO2 extraction machine is designed to facilitate an array of extraction processes — from supercritical CO2 extraction for cosmetic application to ethanol and cannabis extractions. 

Tips To Consider

Whether using a small or a lab scale high pressure reactor, you must take extra precautions to prevent mishaps. Here are some tips to consider: 

  •  Ensure that your vessels and reactors comply with industry codes and standards and the fabricators have proper certifications. 
  • Perform design calculations and take into account safety factors with the help of a qualified engineer. You can order custom pressure vessels and reactors to meet your lab’s or facility’s specific requirements. 
  • Read and always follow what is written in the equipment manual. Never exceed the recommended pressure level. 
  • Equip your space with shatter-proof glass or plastic screens and your employees with personal protective equipment to prevent injuries. 

Before operating any equipment, consider all the factors affecting its function. 

  • Perform periodic inspections and check for signs of damage or stress. Don’t forget to test safety valves as well. Refer to the manual on how to carry out maintenance and inspection. 
  • Use pressure-relieving devices to prolong the pressure equipment’s lifespan. Be sure that the devices vent to a safe location. 

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