History of pressure vessels
The earliest documented design of pressure vessels is described in the book Codex Madrid I, by Leonardo da Vinci, in 1495, where containers of pressurized air were theorized to lift heavy weights underwater, however vessels resembling what are used today did not come about until the 1800s where steam was generated in boilers helping to spur the industrial revolution. However, with poor material quality and manufacturing techniques along with improper knowledge of design, operation and maintenance there was a large number of damaging and often fatal explosions associated with these boilers and pressure vessels, with a death occurring on a nearly daily basis in the United States. Local providences and states in the US began enacting rules for constructing these vessels after some particularly devastating vessel failures occurred killing dozens of people at a time, which made it difficult for manufacturers to keep up with the varied rules from one location to another and the first pressure vessel code was developed starting in 1911 and released in 1914, starting the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code (BPVC). In an early effort to design a tank capable of withstanding pressures up to 10,000 psi (69 MPa), a 6-inch (150 mm) diameter tank was developed in 1919 that was spirally-wound with two layers of high tensile strength steel wire to prevent sidewall rupture, and the end caps longitudinally reinforced with lengthwise high-tensile rods.The need for high pressure and temperature vessels for petroleum refineries and chemical plants gave rise to vessels joined with welding instead of rivets (which were unsuitable for the pressures and temperatures required) and in 1920s and 1930s the BPVC included welding as an acceptable means of construction, and welding is the main means of joining metal vessels today.
There have been many advancements in the field of pressure vessel engineering such as advanced non-destructive examination, phased array ultrasonic testing and radiography, new material grades with increased corrosion resistance and stronger materials, and new ways to join materials such as explosion welding (to attach one metal sheet to another, usually a thin corrosion resistant metal like stainless steel to a stronger metal like carbon steel), friction stir welding (which attaches the metals together without melting the metal), advanced theories and means of more accurately assessing the stresses encountered in vessels such as with the use of Finite Element Analysis, allowing the vessels to be built safer and more efficiently. Today vessels in the USA require BPVC stamping but the BPVC is not just a domestic code, many other countries have adopted the BPVC as their official code. There are, however, other official codes in some countries (some of which rely on portions of and reference the BPVC), Japan, Australia, Canada, Britain, and Europe have their own codes. Regardless of the country nearly all recognize the inherent potential hazards of pressure vessels and the need for standards and codes regulating their design and construction.