Use Caution When Dealing With Gas Cylinders

Author: Stewart Wrighter

Compressed gas cylinders and cryogenic cylinders are rugged vessels used to store, transport, and ship dangerous gases safely. Both types of these cylinders come in different sizes. Even though these containers are built to be rugged they should be handled with care because if they are damaged due to rough handling they can become hazardous. These vessels can sustain physical damage if they are fall over, dropped, or exposed to heat. It is not only the container that can sustain damage but also the valves on it can become damaged as well, allowing for the gases to leak out which can be particularly dangerous if they are not stored in a well-ventilated area. These vessels are not used just one time, but refilled and used again and again though they are required to undergo periodic inspection to make sure they are safe.

Compressed gas cylinders, which also may be referred to as bottle gases, is a pressure vessel used to store gases at above atmospheric pressure. These containers are used by many laboratory and industrial companies for a variety of different operations. They are stored at an extremely high pressure (up to 2,500 pounds per square inch gauge — also referred to as psig). A sudden release of gases from this type of vessel can turn it into a flying missile depending on what it contains that has been known to penetrate a cement wall if it is handled improperly. Depending on the particular gas it may be flammable or combustible, corrosive, explosive, poisonous, or a combination thereof.

Cryogenic cylinders have a double-walled, vacuum vessel with multi-layer insulation in the vacuum space, a stainless steel welded body, and stabilizing pressure safety valves. These containers are also referred to as liquid containers or dewars. These vessels are designed for the purpose of storage, transporting, and dispensing. Most of them are capable of holding either liquid or gas, though some can only handle liquid depending on your needs.

These containers are used to ship, store, and dispense products such as nitrogen, oxygen, argon, helium, hydrogen, carbon dioxide nitrous oxide, krypton, neon, methane, and xenon. These products are used by hospitals, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and industries or research facilities that deal with biology, chemicals, food items, ships, and scientific labs.

The United States Department of Transportation (US DOT) is the governmental regulatory body that oversees the cylinders and sets the necessary specifications. Based on the standards set by the US DOT each container must have the following forms of identification: serial number, month and year date of manufacture, a cylinder ring that displays the original owner, retesting markings, a bar code label for tracking purposes, the manufacturer\’s inspection marking, and the empty weight of the vessel. US DOT Title 49, Section 173 of the United States Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR 173) requires that placards indicating a hazardous material must be used when shipping compressed gases in containers. In Canada, the governmental regulatory body that oversees the proper handling of these containers and sets the necessary specifications is Transportation Canada (TC).

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About the Author
Stewart Wrighter recently met with a skilled compressed gas cylinders installer for an engineering project he is working on. His wife ordered cryogenic cylinders to be installed in her veterinary clinic.