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Purpose-built pressure testing facility opens for business at TWI

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13 September 2016

TWI Industrial Members now have a new supplier for their pressure testing requirements. In combination with TWI capabilities in project management, welding, specimen preparation, strain gauging, bespoke testing, fracture testing and resonance fatigue testing, the addition of a new purpose-built containment facility means that the organisation can provide a one-stop shop for full-scale component testing.

There is a growing need from industry for tests of pressure-containing equipment such as pipelines, risers and pressure vessels. These components are subject to complex loading conditions during their lifetimes, and highly specialised testing is required to accurately reproduce the environment in which they operate. While results from small-scale tests can to some extent be extrapolated to predict the behaviour of larger components, this method usually does not satisfy the safety concerns of oil and gas companies, who require the level of assurance only full-scale tests can provide.

In response, TWI designed, built and commissioned a new pressure containment facility, which enables large components to be subject to high internal and/ or external pressure, in combination with axial or bending loads. The pressure pit facility will be available for use from October 2016.


Applications for the pressure pit include:

  • carrying out large, full-scale tests of components with internal water pressure to check for leak tightness and/ or determine burst pressure
  • performing proof of concept tests on new component design
  • testing new connector designs in line with the requirements in ISO 13628-7 Annex I or API 17G
  • carrying out bend tests on components containing internal water pressure of up to 29,000psi
  • testing components under axial loads (static or cyclic) whilst containing internal water pressure.

The new facility is designed to safely apply axial tensile or compressive loads of up to 1500 tonnes (15,000kN) (static) and 500 tonnes (5000kN) (cyclic), and vertical loads on each of the cross beams up to 1000 tonnes (10,000kN) (static). Test fixtures can be designed which allow combined loads (axial plus bending) to be applied to components. During all of these load scenarios, internal pressures up to 2000bar (29,000psi), or external pressures up to 450bar can be applied to specimens inside the facility.

It is fully serviced by an overhead crane with two hooks of five tonnes each (ten tonnes total capacity). There are video cameras within the pit so that tests can be viewed remotely, as they take place.

The facility adds to TWI’s existing capabilities of designing test machines, fixtures and fittings and so a range of specimen shapes and sizes can now be tested with internal pressure.

Purpose built pressure testing facility
Side elevation of the new pressure pit
Side elevation of the new pressure pit

Pressure testing at a glance:

  • Dimensions 3.7m x 3.45m x 13.5m
  • 1500 tonnes (15,000kN) tensile or compressive axial static loads
  • 500 tonnes (5000kN) tensile or compressive axial cyclic loads
  • 1000 tonnes (10,000kN) vertical load on cross beams
  • Up to 2000bar (29,000psi) internal water pressure
  • Up to 450 bar external water pressure
  • Lifting capacity of 10 tonnes
  • Remote viewing via video camera


The pit is 3.7m wide and 3.45m tall. Its total length is 13.5 metres. A partition can be added to make two shorter containment facilities if necessary. It has a blast proof lid for containment of fragments and pressure, allowing burst tests to be carried out. There are a number of  attachment points on all four walls, and I beams across the pit, and so  tensile, compressive and bending loads can be applied to specimens. Components such as sections of pipeline and other pressure containing equipment up to 10m in length can be tested in the facility. Shorter lengths can be tested across the width of the pit.

To find out more about the specialised testing services available at TWI please see our website or contact us.

For more information please email: