Stainless Steel Design Stresses
in EN and ASME
Pressure Vessel Codes
by Jan Jonson, Avesta Sheffield AB,
Research and Development, SE-774 80 Avesta, Sweden

Pressure vessel design rules are changing. The European Directive on pressure
equipment is effective from December 1999. The new harmonised European
code for unfired pressure vessels will later be available for general use, and
gradually replace current national codes.
Design stresses for austenitic grades are based on Rp1.0 yield strength and
Rm tensile strength at the design temperature. Duplex grades follow ferritic
principles with Rp0.2 and RmRT. ASME VIII-1 adopted in July 1999 the
increased stress values from Code Case 2278, where the traditional safety factor
to Rm tensile strength is reduced from 4 to 3.5.
Resulting wall thicknesses are compared for codes and steel grades.
The potential to utilise duplex steel more efficiently is discussed.

New technical rules for pressure vessels
were implemented in Europe in the end
of 1999. They are based on the
“Directive on the approximation of the
laws of the Member States concerning
pressure equipment” from 1997. Of
particular interest for stainless steel are
the harmonised standards, EN 13445
“Unfired pressure vessels” and EN
10028-7 “ Stainless steel flat products
for pressure purposes”, which have
been drawn up by standardisation
committees during the 1990s.

During the 1800s steampower
successively replaced the traditional
power sources, wind and water.
The development towards higher steam
pressures was followed by an increasing
number of explosions in ships,
locomotives and factories. By 1900 the
rate of boiler explosions was one per
day in the USA.

The technical principles for design
and construction of boilers were
formulated in the USA in the 1830s by
the first government sponsored research
[1]. In Germany the first standards were
laid down in the 1880s by voluntary
cooperation between manufacturers of
materials and boilers together with
operators and inspectors [2]. It was
however only after legislation and
adoption of uniform rules that the
situation could be controlled.
ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel
Code was first published in 1915. The
prescribed rule for calculation of
allowable working pressure; “Taking
one sixth of the tensile strength found
stamped on the plate, multiplying it by
the thickness of the plate, and dividing
by the radius of single riveting”, was
similar to the first formula in the
Steamboat Act of 1852. The safety
factor has later been reduced from 6 to
4 and last year to 3.5, and other
properties are also considered.


However, for the brittle steels of that
time, tensile strength was an adequate
limiting property.
1911–13 it was found that the highly
alloyed chromium steels had unique
resistance to rusting. In Germany
Maurer/Strauss patented the 20-7 CrNi
steel and in Great Britain Brearly
patented the hardenable 13 Cr steel.
Both had approximately 0.25% carbon.
The excellent high temperature
oxidation resistance of 20 Cr steel was
pioneered by Becket in the USA, and
Monnartz found that molybdenum
improves the corrosion resistance to
various acids [3]. Molybdenum content
has then been gradually increased to
7% in current superaustenitic grades [4].
Stainless steel is today defined as
steel with minimum 10.5% Cr. On its
surface a film of some 10 atomic layers
of chromium oxide is formed
spontaneously. This protects against
further attack and the corrosion slows
down gradually. Aluminum and
titanium exhibit the same self-healing
mechanism with a stable oxide film.
For iron and copper, however, the
corrosion products formed are not
protective and there will be a linear
metal loss.
The expanding process industries
used CrNi and CrNiMo steels for
requirements on corrosion resistance
and long service life. These steels have
an austenitic microstructure (face
centered cubic – the most densely
packed atomic structure), which gives
high formability, deformation hardening
and ductility as in gold, silver and
copper. They differ from common
steels, which are ferritic (body centered
cubic) and may be hard and brittle like
the Cr steels for cutlery. Stainless steel
became synonymous with austenitic
structure and CrNi.
The different microstructures of
stainless steel were eventually mapped
and characterised, particularly after

Furthermore does nitrogen substitute for carbon and nickel as austenite stabilisers. Vaporisable residuals like cadmium. It combines the ferrite resistance to stress corrosion cracking and the austenite ductility with high yield strength over 400 N/mm2.4436 + 316 New EN steels combined with old requirements may thus be used before and after the change. the value of stainless steel accounts for 10% of the world steel production and 30% of the Swedish.1% N will increase the minimum yield strength with 30%. Only half of the nickel content in austenitic grades is required. if a globally agreed system for grouping of stainless steel after microstructure and chemical composition could be implemented.80 was withdrawn from the first EN code edition. and may be sensitive to solidification cracking. where the factor to tensile strength has been 3. National pressure equipment standards have been revised to conform to the new PED. Today stainless steel makes up 2% of the world steel tonnage. The diverse microstructures determine the wide range of stainless steel fabrication and use properties. Duplex stainless steel with a mixed structure of ferrite and austenite (40/60) was introduced to the market in a larger scale during the 1980s. to improve hot ductility. An alternative design route for high strength steels that set the limit to 0. First added as metal. unintended carbide and intermetallic precipitates Note that traditional austenitic grades contain traces of ferrite. which give popular illustrations to the composition areas for: – the basic structures: Ferrite (F). In the 1950s nitrogen was developed as an alloying element together with manganese. Material yield or 0. The global integration within stainless steel production as well as fabrication influences the technical rule structure in the direction of fewer and more up-to-date standards for the stainless steel market [12]. The harmonised material standard EN 10028-7 “Stainless steel flat products for pressure purposes” is operative from January 2000. which reduced the problem with intergranular corrosion in certain environments. by 12%. In EN the corresponding limit for ferritic steel is 0. but was being produced at Avesta in the early 30s [11]. ESSENTIAL SAFETY REQUIREMENTS AND DESIGN CRITERIA PED specifies in Annex 1 the essential safety requirements that shall be met.0% proof strength during the period 1965–75. They are structured on design. Tensile strength is now limiting for YS/TSratios over 0. Unstable austenite (mA). It would undoubtedly favour their use. In Europe.63. and improves the pitting resistance. and is now available as continuously coldstretched. Duplex (fA) – intended precipitation hardening (PH). manufacturing and materials (Table 1). CCS®. zinc. An addition of 0. Grades without ferrite are referred to as fully austenitic (aA). In the 1970s the electric arc furnaces were complemented with AODconverters (Argon-OxygenDecarburisation).5. .030 and 0. the high rate of austenite deformation hardening was utilised in the Avesta method for coldstretching of pressure vessels in connection to the pressure test [8].43. making efficient use of this metal resource. Martensite (M) and Austenite (A) – the dual structures: Semiferrite (fM). In the Code Case this factor was reduced from 4 to 3. but unfortunately not by MPa. Introduction of continuous casting enabled greater slab and coil weights for downstream processing and improved steel homogeneity and reproducibility.4307 + 1. However. but many new standards to refer to. and in the 60s it was added to the common 18-8 and 17-10-2 grades [7]. ASME Code Case 2278 introduced in 1998 higher design stresses based on the experience of ASME VIII-2. There are no drastic changes in design principles or steel grades in Europe. later as gas. but is delayed one year. Supermartensite (aM). In the early 1960s. Coldstretched sheet with a 0. i. in connection to adoption of the SI-system within steel standardisation. The production of steel with maximum 0. In the future.acom 1 2000 adoption of welding processes in the 1930s. the Pressure Equipment Directive (PED) for the European Union is operative from December 1999 and compulsory from May 2002 [13].0 2343 + 1. being austenitic. The transition for international manufacturers and users is simplified by supplying products that are multicertified to old and new standards: – steels in different material standards EN + ASTM + SS + BS + DIN – steels with Cmax 0. For austenitic stainless steel there was a change to 1. global manufacture of pressure vessels will be made according to basic principles in these two systems. This principle was then used in the revision of ASME VIII-1 in July 1999. THE NEAR FUTURE The new harmonised pressure vessel code EN 13445 was planned for implementation year 2000. The unique mechanical properties of austenite were gradually considered in the pressure vessel codes. New steel grades developed since then in Sweden have to a large extent been based on the 2 economic efficiency of nitrogen alloying. A few percent deformation will give the vessel a considerable and homogeneous yield strength improvement. 75%. bismuth. with the main part.07 1.5 and 2.2% proof strength became controlling. The earlier unit kg/mm2 was replaced by N/mm2. lead were also eliminated. The method was standardised in 1975 [9].2% yield strength of 350 N/mm2 was standardised in Sweden and Germany [10].4301 + 304L + 304 – steels with Momin 2. The annual growth rate of stainless steel during the last 40 years has been 6%. However. and the wall thickness may be reduced by 50% or more.030% carbon was simplified. safety against brittle fracture was safeguarded by requirements on other properties than mere tensile strength. from 210 to 280 N/mm2.e. Empirical diagrams and formulas were developed to give guidance in material selection and fabrication: The well-known Schaeffler diagram [5] got many followers [6].

5 Rp0. Rp1. fatigue etc.5 Rp0.2T and RmRT. tables for grades/products 1.2T and 1. values 39 + 70 ASME special in ASME SA240 Continuous Code Case ”Older” RT min.5 RmRT/3.5 Materials Flat product standard grades Revision period for standards New grade approval Steel data 39 + 9 EN special in EN 10028-7 5 year EMDS “Newer” RT and HT min. creep. ambient/ operational temperature. Some of the differences between EN and ASME are tabulated below (Table 2). 0. EMDS) – particular material appraisal Product control – quality system or direct inspection Table 2. Some differences between EN 13445 and ASME VIII-1.0 for full. RmT Manufacture Stress at proof test – ferritic – austenitic min.2RT.11 3. chemical attack and wear – integration of components to assemblies – safety devices against exceeding limits – external fire Procedures for: – forming – joining – non-destructive tests – heat treatment – traceability Final assessment – insp. Rp0.43 x the allowable pressure and 1. – European approvals (EAM.2T and RmRT.85 for random and 0. Rp0.7 for no non-destructive examination. reaction forces. 14 % and impact energy = min.2RT. RmRT/2) ≈ 1. Overview of essential safety requirements. Table 1. values from ASME trend curves 2.5 Rp0.2RT/1. Final assessment is based on fluid groups 1–2.acom 1 2000 The manufacturer shall analyse the hazards as basis for design and construction.5 or 1.05 (max. The hydrostatic test pressure shall not be less than: – 1. corrosion. Rp0.0RT/1.05 min.2 Rp1.5 RmRT/3. 27 J.5 or 1. and is made by the methods: – design by formulas (DBF) – design by analysis (DBA) – design by experimental procedure (DBE) For welded joints the coefficients are maximum: – 1. Design for adequate strength should consider traditional factors like internal/external pressure. Steels are considered sufficiently ductile for lowest temperature if: – Rupture elongation = min. values from ASTM HT typ. hazard categories I – IV and assessment modules A–G. Design Manufacturing Materials – adequate strength with adequate safety against all relevant failure modes – safe handling and operation – necessary examination – draining/venting and filling/discharge – corrosion.4 RmRT 3 RmT 3 . Rule sector EN ASME Design Units Allowable stresses calculated by Ferritic steel factors – applied on Austenitic steel factors – applied on °C and N/mm2 Designer 1.25 x “the temperature adjusted” pressure.5 3.0T and °F and ksi Committee. of equipment/documents – proof test Marking and labelling Operating instructions Material that is ductile and tough – prevents brittle type fracture – chemical resistant for scheduled life – not significantly affected by aging – intended for processing procedures Values for design calculations from: – harmonised EN standards.5 ≈ 1. RmT 1. The new EN standard for unfired pressure vessels has been formulated from above directives by the standardisation committee CEN TC54 and for stainless steel by ECISS TC23 and TC22.

95.3 may be applied without getting any significant plastic deformation of the vessel. The new design stresses according to EN 13445 and ASME VIII-1 are compared in Figure 1.3 7. the general tendencies may be shown with the help of computer conversion. Also the proof test conditions may influence. EN maximum design stresses for austenitic grades are based on the traditional formula Rp1. Today duplex grades are evaluated according to ferritic grade criteria.0/1. EN ASME EN vs ASME 18-8/17-10-2 RT 200°C 10.3 9. In the mentioned Swedish coldstretching method much higher stresses have been exploited.1 9. The new EN code applies a factor of max.9 20% 10% 22-5-3 RT 200°C 6. A model may be made for empirical relations between fracture toughness. EN gives greater advantage for the newer grades (20–35% thinner) than ASME (0–35% thinner).0 10. If we however limit the comparison to consider primary membrane stresses and static conditions.2) (6.5 but allows for grades with elongation over 35% also the lower of Rp1. quenched and tempered/thermomechanical processed/duplex stainless steels has . Measurements on the components in pressure loading will show the reliability of the model. and the ASME factor is similar in practice.2/Rp1. The EN advantage is even more pronounced for nitrogen grades and the newer austenitic and duplex grades. The procedure will also ensure elastic behaviour of the vessel and its weld joints. Initiatives have also lately been taken within ISO to investigate the possibilities for international recognition of regional and national codes. This new principle gives generally higher stresses.0/1. with energy absorbed before ductile fracture that is twice the common ferritics.2 and Rm/3.0 35% 20% 17-10-2 RT 200°C Do. 4 Table 3. diverse units. to define the grade specific parameters [15].2 8. + Nitrogen New austenitic Duplex Coldstretched POTENTIAL DESIGN STRESSES FOR DUPLEX GRADES The austenitic grades eventually got special criteria for allowable stresses that took advantage of their specific non-brittle and work hardening behaviour.2 35% 15% 20-18-6 RT 200°C 7. Traditionally the proof test is made as a general leak and stability test. Steel type Austenitic Cr-Ni-Mo Temp. where the difference in thickness is 35% at RT and 0–20% at 300/400°C.0 strength of the steel is prescribed. Their behaviour is however more similar to austenitic grades. The elastic behaviour of the pressure vessels under loading conditions is not only governed by the yield strength of the steel supplied.5 6.9 12. A factor of 1.8 8.4401/304/316 is set to 10. Within the code systems.acom 1 2000 ALLOWABLE STRESSES AND MINIMUM THICKNESSES Today the designer tries to select the optimum grade. Resulting wall thicknesses (index) according to EN 13445 and ASME VIII-1. because of plus tolerances in wall thickness and plate strength.2 20% thinner 2% RT 200°C 8. yield strength. Requirements for prevention of brittle fracture is treated by the EN code in Annex D. Different legal and technical rule structures. Methods are defined to establish impact energy requirements. where the EN thickness for basic 18-8/17-10-2/1. Factors of up to 2 are used to get improved yield strength on austenitic stainless vessels. whereas the possibility to choose between code systems is limited.5 10. which are in the range –10% to +20% of current stresses in national codes. designations and properties complicate comparison. EN will allow 20% lower wall thickness (25% higher stress) than ASME for RT design with traditional grades. wall thickness and temperature [14].4) finite element calculation of vessel components. The constitutive model is used in (6.5 10. This experience may be utilised to integrate a “homogenising” pressure test as a manufacturing procedure. Elastic and plastic behaviour may be measured in biaxial loading of cross-shaped specimens.0 12. to nil at 400°C. and reduce residual stresses. 0. and a maximum stress below the minimum Rp0. The results for RT and 200°C are given as thickness index.0 (Table 3). The difference is reduced with increasing temperature.4301/1.6 7. A European project to review limitations and design rules for 3 high strength steel types. Manufacturers and users continue with systems they are used to. In the long perspective it is likely that harmonising developments will reduce differences between the systems. Established stress-strain response is then applied to a newly developed constitutive model.1–1. Can austenitic criteria be justified for duplex grades? Two basic questions then have to be answered: – maximum allowed stresses for prevention of brittle fracture – maximum allowed stresses for elastic behaviour.

(°C) 400 500 0 100 200 300 Temp. Comparison with 18-8 according to the Swedish Cold-stretching Directions (CSD). MPa VIII-1 200 200 150 150 100 100 18-8 + Nitrogen 18-8 50 50 0 0 MPa 0 100 200 300 400 500 0 300 300 250 250 200 200 150 150 100 100 20-18-6 + Nitrogen 100 200 300 400 500 400 500 22-5-3 Duplex + Nitrogen 50 50 0 0 0 100 200 300 Temp.acom 1 2000 300 300 CSD EN . 20-18-6 +Nitrogen and Duplex 22-5-3 +Nitrogen. (°C) Figure 1. 18-8 +Nitrogen.spec. Maximum allowed design stresses in EN and ASME between RT and 400°C for: Austenitic 18-8. 250 250 EN 18-8 + Coldstretched VIII-1 rev. 5 .

MATS LILJAS. Conf.875. 395. Conf. p 242–252 15. EspooStockholm.10.4462 ASTM A240 S31803 CR strip HR plate CR/HR CR/HR strip Potential started [16]. An alternative design route for ferritic grades. 50 mm 480 460 450 max. 5th Int. 1995 5. SIS-Pressure vessel commission. ANDERS OLSSON. on Pressure Vessel Technology.5 REFERENCES 1. Coldstretched austenitic stainless steel pressure vessels. p 1157–1165 9. Duplex steels owe their high strength mainly from nitrogen alloying and the fine grain size. MANFRED SCHIRRA.2 Rp1.5 750 25 5.1 11. designations and steel properties. The modern duplex stainless steels combine the best characteristics of ferrite and austenite and optimum design criteria for them will be investigated in a European research project. properties. Conf. Beijing.8 5. Min. Journal of Constructional Steel Research. 46:1–3. JAN JONSON. Scandinavian Journal of Metallurgy 1998. more the lower the temperature. 1998. EU 5th Framework Research and Technological Development Project. San Antonio. 6th Int. Die historischempirische Entwicklung des Gefügediagrammes der CrNi-Stähle. on High Nitrogen Steels. Development of commercial nitrogenrich stainless steels. Scandinavian Journal of Metallurgy 1987. Paper No. Austenitic stainless steels have a very ductile behaviour. Selection of austenitic electrodes for welding of dissimilar metals. 10. p 111– 136 2. Economical and safe design of pressure vessels applying new modern steels. Design criteria for boilers and pressure vessels in the USA. Cold-stretching directions. NACE. Conf. MATS LILJAS. and eventually their yield strength became controlling. on Pressure Vessel Technology. Resulting wall thickness (index).0 Rm A Wall thickness. MATS LILJAS. Chapman & Hall.27 5. J H G MONNYPENNY. p 17–31 3. diverse units. Standard Steel Product EN 10028-7 1. RT EN ENalt ASMErev max. Applications of Stainless Steel ’92. 1998 8. p 601– 620 6. Verband der TÜV. Superaustenitic stainless steels: development. June 1999. 60 years of duplex stainless steel applications. will then be evaluated. JAN JONSON. Corrosion ’94. 97/23/EG Directive on the approximation of the laws of the Member States concerning pressure equipment. on Pressure Vessel Technology. 6 mm max. WERNER E HOFFMANN. 2nd Int. 6th Int. Stahl und Eisen 1992. European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. JAN-OLOF NILSSON. 1992. 1988. Design criteria of boilers and pressure vessels in the Federal Republic of Germany. International standardization of stainless steel. By balancing microstructure and strip processing of current standard grades even higher strength properties may be reached for cold and hot rolled strip (Table 4). 1973. Uppdated Jan 2000. p 117–120 7. London 1926. CSD. This article was first presented at Stainless Steel ’99. . 242 16.6 9. Minimum usage temperatures for ferritic steels. MARTIN D BERNSTEIN.acom 1 2000 Table 4. ECOPRESS. 8 mm 500 580 660 640 620 20 25 25 6. JAN OLSSON. Paper No. Beijing.2 8. Stainless iron and steels. Sweden. Italy. 2000– 2002. %) Rp0. 1988. USA. Constitutive modelling of stainless steel. p 842– 851 13. The Welding Journal 1947. 1991 10. CONCLUSIONS • • • • 6 Pressure vessel design criteria were originally based on the brittle behaviour of ferritic steels and their ultimate tensile strength. Standard and potential properties for duplex 22-5-3. ROLF SANDSTRÖM. VdTÜV WB 411 Kaltgestreckte nichtrostende Stähle. fabrication and use. with tensile factor 1. p 215 and 254 4. 75 mm max. 1994 12. RT (N/mm2. 1997 14. Stockholm. Comparison of the EN and ASME codes is complicated by different legal and technical rule structures. A L SCHAEFFLER. Higher strength properties in newer steels are utilised better (15–35%) in the EN code.