American Society of Mechanical Engineers - ASME American Society of Mechanical Engineers

In the mid 19th century, boiler explosions occurred every four days. Between 1898 and 1903, more than 1,200 people died in 1900 separate boiler explosions in the US.

On April 27, 1865, the explosion of the Sultana's boiler killed 1,800 returning soldiers from the Civil War.

The catastrophic explosion of a fire tube boiler at a factory in Brockton, Massachusetts, in 1905 killed 58 people.

So there was clearly a need for guidelines, to prevent boiler explosions.

  • 1911 - The ASME formed a committee to address the problem of boiler explosions
  • 1915 - The ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code (BPVC) was the first comprehensive standard for the design, construction, inspection and testing of boilers and pressure vessels
  • 1926 - The American Standards Institute initiated a project to develop a code for piping
  • 1935 - American Tentative Standard Code for Pressure Piping
  • Starting in 1955, separate sections were split off

Overview of ASME B31

ASME B31, Code for Pressure Piping, is a standard developed, published and maintained by ASME. The code includes a number of separate sections, including Power Piping, Process Piping, Pipeline Transportation Systems for Liquid Hydrocarbons and other Liquids, Refrigeration Piping and Heat Transfer Components, Gas Transmission and Distribution Piping Systems, Building Services Piping, and Hydrogen Piping and Pipelines.

The ASME B31 committee was originally formed in 1926. The code has a long history beginning as early as 1935. Some sections have been absorbed into others, while others were superseded by different standards.

Below is a list of the currently active sections..


Power Piping prescribes requirements for the design, materials, fabrication, erection, examination, testing, inspection, operation, and maintenance of piping systems typically found in electric power generating stations, industrial and institutional plants, geothermal heating systems, and central and district heating and cooling systems.

It also covers boiler-external piping for power boilers and high-temperature, high pressure water boilers in which steam or vapor is generated at a pressure of more than 15 psig [100 kPa (gage)]; and high temperature water is generated at pressures exceeding 160 psig [1,103 kPa (gage)] and/or temperatures exceeding 250 degrees F (120 degrees C).


Fuel Gas Piping (inactive, superseded by ANSI Z223.1)


Process Piping contains requirements for piping typically found in petroleum refineries; chemical, pharmaceutical, textile, paper, semiconductor, and cryogenic plants; and related processing plants and terminals. It covers materials and components, design, fabrication, assembly, erection, examination, inspection, and testing of piping.

This Code applies to piping for all fluids including..

  1. raw, intermediate, and finished chemicals
  2. petroleum products
  3. gas, steam, air and water
  4. fluidized solids
  5. refrigerants and
    cryogenic fluids

Also included is piping that interconnects pieces or stages within a packaged equipment assembly.


Pipeline Transportation Systems for Liquids and Slurries prescribes requirements for the design, materials, construction, assembly, inspection, testing, operation, and maintenance of liquid pipeline systems between production fields or facilities, tank farms, above- or belowground storage facilities, natural gas processing plants, refineries, pump stations, ammonia plants, terminals (marine, rail, and truck), and other delivery and receiving points, as well as pipelines transporting liquids within pump stations, tank farms, and terminals associated with liquid pipeline systems. This Code also prescribes requirements for the design, materials, construction, assembly, inspection, testing, operation, and maintenance of piping transporting aqueous slurries of nonhazardous materials such as coal, mineral ores, concentrates, and other solid materials, between a slurry processing plant or terminal and a receiving plant or terminal.

Piping here consists of pipe, flanges, bolting, gaskets, valves, relief devices, fittings, and the pressure containing parts of other piping components. It also includes hangers and supports, and other equipment items necessary to prevent overstressing the pressure containing parts. It does not include support structures such as frames of buildings, stanchions, or foundations, or any equipment.


Refrigeration Piping and Heat Transfer Components covers refrigerant, heat transfer components, and secondary coolant piping for temperatures as low as -320°F (-196°C), whether erected on the premises or factory assembled. Users are advised that other piping Code Sections may provide requirements for refrigeration piping in their respective jurisdictions.

This Code does not apply to any self-contained or unit systems subject to the requirements of Underwriters Laboratories or other nationally recognized testing laboratory. It also does not apply to water piping; piping designed for external or internal gage pressure not exceeding 15 psi (105 kPa) regardless of size; or pressure vessels, compressors, or pumps. However, B31.5 does include all connecting refrigerant and secondary coolant piping starting at the first joint adjacent to such apparatus.


Chemical Plant Piping (combined with B31.3)


Nuclear Power Piping (inactive, superseded by ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code, Section III)


Gas Transmission and Distribution Piping Systems covers gas transmission and distribution piping systems, including gas pipelines, gas compressor stations, gas metering and regulation stations, gas mains, and service lines up to the outlet of the customer’s meter set assembly. It includes gas transmission and gathering pipelines, including appurtenances that are installed offshore for the purpose of transporting gas from production facilities to onshore locations; gas storage equipment of the closed pipe type that is fabricated or forged from pipe or fabricated from pipe and fittings; and gas storage lines.


Building Services Piping contains rules for the piping in industrial, institutional, commercial, and public buildings, and multi-unit residences, which does not require the range of sizes, pressures, and temperatures covered in B31.1. ASME B31.9 prescribes requirements for the design, materials, fabrication, installation, inspection, examination, and testing of piping systems for building services. It includes piping systems in the building or within the property limits.


Cryogenic Piping (combined with B31.3)


Slurry Transportation Piping (inactive, superseded by B31.4)


Hydrogen Piping and Pipelines this standard on Hydrogen Piping and Pipelines contains requirements for piping in gaseous and liquid hydrogen service and pipelines in gaseous hydrogen service. The general requirements section covers materials, brazing, welding, heat treating, forming, testing, inspection, examination, operating, and maintenance. The industrial piping section covers requirements for components, design, fabrication, assembly, erection, inspection, examination, and testing of piping.


ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code (BPVC)

ASME FFS-1 (Fitness-for-Service)

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