In 1926 the American Standards Association initiated Project B31 to develop a piping code. ASME was the sole administrative sponsor. The first publication of this document, American Tentative Standard Code for Pressure Piping, was in 1935. From 1942 through 1955 the Code was published as the American Standard Code for Pressure Piping, ASA B31.1. It was composed of separate Sections for different industries. These Sections were split off, starting in 1955 with Gas Transmission and Distribution Piping Systems, ASA B31.8. ASA B31.3, Petroleum Refinery Piping Code, was first published in 1959. A number of separate Sections have been prepared, most of which have been published. The various Section designations are as follows:
B31.2 Fuel Gas Piping [withdrawn in 1988]
B31.6 Chemical Plant Piping [never published]
B31.7 Nuclear Piping [moved to ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code, Section III]
B31.10 Cryogenic Piping [never published]
A draft of the Section for Chemical Plant Piping, B31.6, was completed in 1974. However, it was decided to merge this Section into ASME B31.3, because the two Code Sections were closely related. A joint Code Section, Chemical Plant and Petroleum Refinery Piping, was published in 1976. At this time items such as fluid service categories (e.g., Category M), Nonmetallic Piping, and Safeguarding were introduced into ASME B31.3. In 1980 the Nonmetal portions of the B31.3 Code were gathered and combined into one Chapter, Chapter VIII.
A draft Code for Cryogenic Piping was prepared by Section Committee B31.10 and was ready for approval in 1981. Again, since the coverage overlapped with ASME B31.3, it was decided to merge the Section Committees and develop a single, inclusive Code. This Code was issued in 1984. In the same year another potentially separate Code was added as a new chapter to ASME B31.3, High-Pressure Piping, Chapter IX.
The resulting document is a Code that is very broad in scope. It covers fluids as benign as water and as hazardous as mustard gas. It covers temperatures from cryogenic conditions to 815°C (1500°F) and beyond, and pressures from vacuum and atmospheric to 340,000 kPa (50,000 psi) and higher. Part of the philosophy of the Code stems from this broad coverage. There is a great deal of responsibility placed with the owner and latitude to use good engineering.
The acronym that appears in front of B31.3 in the title of the Code has changed from ASA to ANSI to ASME. The initial designation, ASA, referred to the American Standards Association. Between 1967 and 1969 ASA became first the United States of America Standards Institute and then the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). In 1978 the Standards Committee was reorganized as a committee operating under the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) with ANSI approval. Thus, it is currently correct to refer to the Code as ASME B31.3. These changes have not changed the Committee structure or the Code. #Little_PEng.