Vacuum vessels in tension.
Tensional Vacuum Vessels (TVV) are vessels constructed such that the walls are placed in tension rather than in compression as is the case with conventional vacuum vessels. TVVs have the advantage of being cost-effective, light weight in construction, and potentially portable. Tensional vessels have already been designed with regard to submarine applications. However, the use of this principle with regard to vacuum applications is believed to be novel. TVVs have two interlinked thin walled shells instead of the traditional single thick wall of conventional design. These shells are placed in tension by pressurising the intermediate space. This thesis outlines the theory of tensional vessels and describes the performance of a number of experimental chambers developed during this investigation. The fundamental theory of the TVV is outlined and developed in more detail with regard to cylindrical vessels. These include vessels constructed from longitudinal and circumferential tubes. The basic theory for any TVV can be derived from the equilibrium condition. This states that the force due to the gauge pressure on the outer shell must be greater than or equal to the force due to the absolute pressure on the inner shell. If the inward force predominates implosion will occur. Materials science considerations are also taken into account. If the tension in the walls exceeds that required for yield, the vessel will deform. The use of novel tensile materials is also explored. TVVs are potentially inflatable and theory is developed with regard to the possibility of buoyant vessels. The first experiments were based on earlier work performed at this institution with cylindrical TVVs constructed from longitudinal tubes. The tubes employed were soft drink cans which were sealed together with putty. The work described in this thesis outlines the development of larger versions and the instabilities which developed are noted. High vacuum experiments performed through the inclusion of a guard vessel are then described. This is followed by a further description of experiments performed with this basic tensional wall design in an attempt to gain a better understanding of its properties. These vessels were smaller and were gas pressurised in order to allow for increased flexibility with regard to pressure and volume variation. It is found that the compressional elements of such vessels cannot be ignored. A series of cylindrical TVVs with the walls constructed from circumferential tubes is then described, including high vacuum experiments, also performed through the inclusion of a guard vessel. The initial experiments were small in scale and made use of small bicycle tyres as the TVV walls. Larger vessels were then built, the walls being constructed from car tyres. These vessels are also inflatable and more stable than those constructed from longitudinal tubes. Also, the compressional elements do not play as great a role in these vessels. A fully tensional cylindrical vessel is then described which includes tensional end plates. Experiments performed with large bowls as the end plates are outlined. The theory of the deformation of a circular plate is also given including finite element analysis. Finally, a further novel vacuum vessel design is proposed. This is the spinning vacuum vessel. Proof of principle experiments are performed on a small scale vessel (a soft drink can with its interior reinforced with putty) which yields promising results.