This paper gives a brief history of the development of boiler codes and standards and the role played by the insurance industry and its company engineers in providing coverage and inspection services on conventional boilers and pressure vessels.
In the early 1800's, boiler explosions had reached such an alarming frequency that the need for adequate safety rules governing construction and inspection became a necessity. Insurance companies were organized to afford coverage on boilers and pressure vessels and to provide inspection services to insure their safe operation. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Boiler Code, adopted in 1915, provided uniform rules of construction, and in 1919, The National Board of Boiler Pressure Vessel Inspections was organized to enforce uniformly the interpretations of the Code.
When the peaceful uses of atomic energy became a reality the insurance industry provided protection to nuclear facilities in amounts far exceeding that required until then due to the catastrophic exposures that existed.
The nuclear reactor has brought many new problems to the inspector of boilers and pressure vessels. Because of the new hazards created by radiation, adequate inspections of reactor vessels and certain primary system vessels do not appear possible and new techniques are required. Designers must give greater attention to provisions for maintenance and inspection during the operating life of the vessels.
More detailed and precise data on the effects of radiation damage on reactor vessel metals, principally steels, must be obtained in the interest of continued safe operation. There is also a need for more data on irradiated stressed specimens and the combined effects of neutron bombardment with fatigue, creep, etc. in order to develop a more complete and practical picture of neutron irradiation effects.