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Design for Leakage in Flange Joints computer model as a harmonically varying distributed axial force

and by using the moment correction factor approach to correct the

Under External Loads flange rotation around the perimeter, as described in Ref. 6. The
leakage prediction is based on determining the gasket stress at all
points on the circumference and numerically integrating the leak-
William J. Koves age for the full 360 deg.
Des Plaines, IL 60016 Experimental Data
e-mail: bill.koves@uop.com Over the years there have been a number of experimental pro-
grams investigating the effect of external bending moments on
bolted flange joints. Those significant studies and general conclu-
This paper uses an analytical model based on the Pressure Vessel sions are summarized below.
Research Council (PVRC) ROTT test gasket constants to compute One of the earlier significant studies was done by Rodabaugh
leakage in gasketed flange joints subjected to internal pressure 7. This study included the application of external bending mo-
and external bending moments. The model results are compared to ments to B16.5 flanges. Internally pressurized 12 in. class 150 and
test data, and design recommendations are made, consistent with 3 in. class 150 flanges were subjected to external moments until
the ASME/PVRC tightness-based methodology. leakage developed. The flanges used compressed asbestos gaskets,
DOI: 10.1115/1.2716700 which were the common gasket at the time, and were assembled
to a typical bolt stress of 40,000 psi 276 MPa. This was one of
Keywords: flange, joints, leakage, external moments, external the first-published works to illustrate the conservatism of the
loads equivalent pressure method of establishing external moment
loading limits for flange design. The experimental results are com-
Introduction pared to the limits given by the B16.5 equivalent pressure results.
More recently, the Pressure Vessel Research Council has spon-
Flanged joints are essential components in nearly all pressur- sored several projects on the effect of external moments on the
ized systems; however, they are also one of the most complex. A leakage of bolted flange joints. These results have been published
large number of factors enter into the determination of the suc- in several WRC Bulletins 8,9. Research at the University of
cessful design and operation of a flange joint in service. The North Dakota by Bibel et al. 8 was based on a 16 in. Class 300
bolted flange joint involves the interaction between the bolting, raised face weld neck RFWN flange. Several gasket types were
flange, and gasket, considering important nonlinear variables, studied; spiral-wound stainless steel flexible graphite filled with
such as friction and gasket properties. The pressure vessel and and without inner ring, BSSC flexible graphite sheet gasket with
piping codes were developed for safety, and the rules developed foil core, and Compressed Elastomer NBR reinforced with
for bolted flange joints were developed in the same spirit. The Aramid/Glass fibers. The moments applied were 60,000 ft lbs,
ASME Code design rules 1 provide a method for sizing the 89,500 ft lbs, and 114,000 ft lbs, resulting in nominal axial pres-
flange and bolts to be structurally adequate for the specified pres-
sure plus moment stresses in the XS pipe of up to 20,500 psi.
sure design conditions; however, the current design rules do not
These stresses are relatively high piping stresses, considering that
address external loads nor do they guarantee a leak-tight joint for
typically there will be elbows or branch connections with higher
all transient operating conditions.
stress intensification factors in the system that would limit the
The new ASME flange joint rules, proposed as Appendix BFJ,
piping stresses. Even at these high moment loadings, there were
are based on the gasket model developed under the Pressure Ves-
only small changes in the total leak rate and the conclusion was,
sel Research Council PVRC and described in Ref. 2 and Chap.
a very small leak before application of an external bending
9 of Ref. 3. The new rules address leakage, however the ap-
moment remained a very small leak after application of the mo-
proach for leakage under external bending is conservative unless
ment. In some cases, the leakage actually was less with the ap-
more rigorous methods are applied. The proposed BFJ rules ad-
plied moment. The greatest increase in leakage was with a lightly
dress both the structural capacity of the flange due to external
loaded spiral-wound gasket.
moments and the effect on leakage. The following proposes a
A separate project performed by researchers at CETIM, Nantes
design methodology for external loads, consistent with the App.
France, and Ecole Polytechnique TTRL, Montreal, Canada, was
BFJ approach.
published in 9. This bulletin consists of two parts. The Part 1
study included two flange types, an NPS 1.5 in. class 300 and an
Analytical Model NPS 8 in. class 300 flange. The four gasket types studied included
The analytical model for the prediction of leakage from flange nonasbestos fiber sheet, graphite sheet, expanded PTFE sheet, and
joints subjected to pressure and external loads is based on the spiral-wound graphite filled. The general conclusion from 9 was:
Pressure Vessel Research Council PVRC gasket model as de- Overall the leakage rate of the tests performed in the weld neck
scribed in Refs. 2,3 and illustrated in Fig. 1. The log gasket flanges indicate that bending moment effect on the joint tightness
stress versus log tightness relationship during loading is deter- is relatively small.
mined by gasket constant Gb and slope a. The relationship during Part 2 of 9 contains test data for leakage testing of a NPS 4 in.
unloading is determined by gasket constant Gs and slope k. Given Class 150 flange joint subjected to external bending moments,
a gasket loading and unloading history, leakage can be predicted with four gasket types. The gaskets tested included expanded
by the PVRC model. The flange model is based on an elastic PTFE sheet 1 / 16 in. thick, skived cut virgin PTFE sheet 1 / 8 in.
interaction analysis of the flange-gasket-bolt assembly using the thick, graphite-coated corrugated metal, and spiral-wound graph-
computer software K-FLANGE 4. Flange rotation, bolt and gasket ite filled. The assembly bolt stress was 25,000 psi 172 MPa with
stiffness are included in the model, based on the analytical solu- two tests at 50,000 psi 345 MPa initial bolt stress. The bending
tion by Waters et al. 5. External moments are addressed in the moments ranged from 4900 N M to 9000 N M.

Contributed by the Pressure Vessel and Piping Division of ASME for publication Comparison of Theory to Test
in the JOURNAL OF PRESSURE VESSEL TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received December 14,
2005; final manuscript received May 1, 2006. Review conducted by Rudolph J.
Reference 6 previously showed a comparison of the K-FLANGE
Scavuzzo. Paper presented at the 2005 ASME Pressure Vessels and Piping Confer- model with the onset of the pressure required to develop visible
ence PVP2005, Denver, CO, July 1721, 2005. leakage of pressurized 12 in. class 150 and 3 in. class 150 B16.5

334 / Vol. 129, MAY 2007 Copyright 2007 by ASME Transactions of the ASME

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Fig. 1 PVRC gasket constants

flanges subjected to external moments from Ref. 8. The analyti-

cal model agrees reasonably well with the test data and is conser-
vative. The equivalent pressure method was shown to be very Fig. 3 Leakage versus external moments, NPS 4 class 150
conservative in that study. with SW graphite fill gasket
Figure 2 compares leakage as a function of bending moment for
a 16 in. class 300 flange with a spiral-wound graphite-filled gas-
ket. The gasket constants were as reported in 8 and the gasket
unloading modulus based on the data presented in 9. Three The equivalent pressure B16.5 method is based on converting
methods of addressing the external moments are plotted along the moment into an equivalent pressure and subtracting that pres-
with the test data. The equivalent pressure method, the equivalent sure from the maximum pressure rating in the B61.5 tables to get
axial force method, and the analytical model using the K-FLANGE a maximum allowable internal pressure for a given bending mo-
software are plotted along with the test data. The effective gasket ment. Figure 2 illustrates the conservatism of that approach.
width was determined by matching the leak rates with zero mo- Figure 3 illustrates the variation of leak rate with bending mo-
ment applied and considering flange rotation. The PVRC tests ment for an NPS 4 CL 150 flange with a spiral-wound graphite-
were based on flat platens, and a commercial flange will have filled gasket from 9. The test data are compared to the analytical
some flange rotation. Note that with a hard gasket, and with the model; however, to get agreement, an effective gasket width and
same effective gasket width, the leak rates are significantly greater an effective gasket modulus must be determined. Similar to the
for the same external moment. NPS 16 CL 300 flange, the effective gasket width was determined
Figure 2 illustrates that the leakage curve is relatively flat and by matching the leak rates with zero applied moment. The curve is
insensitive to the applied moment until the point of flange sepa- sensitive to the effective modulus and a value of 200,000 psi
ration is approached where significant leakage occurs. These plots 1380 Mpa was selected. A higher modulus would result in a
indicate that using the PVRC gasket constants and integrating the more conservative prediction and a lower modulus, a less conser-
leakage analytically gives reasonable agreement with actual mea- vative prediction. The gasket data presented indicate a higher un-
sured leakage from actual flange joints. loading modulus than the one used; however the nonlinear behav-
ior causes a redistribution of gasket stress and is not linear, as
assumed by the analytical model. This nonlinear gasket effect is
also discussed in Ref. 11. Note that the data from the 1.5 in. and
8 in. class 300 flanges were similar in that there was a relatively
small amount of increased leakage due to the applied external
moment, as shown in Table 1.
The conclusion from these comparisons is that the analytical
model shows the same trend as the test data. The increase in
leakage with applied external moment is relatively insensitive un-
til the onset of joint separation. The usefulness of the conclusion
is that the analytical model can be used to make other compari-
sons, not included in the tests.
ASME has been working on developing a new Appendix BFJ
that incorporates the PVRC gasket model 2 and gasket constants
in design. The equations in Appendix BFJ are based on an axi-
symmetric analysis of a flange. The distributed force on a gasket
due to external moments is treated as an equivalent axisymmetric
force, giving the same distributed load as the maximum for a
moment. The equivalent force is multiplied by a factor Q that
addresses the three-dimensional nature of an applied moment and
recognizes that the distributed load due to a moment varies from a
maximum tension to compression, where it is actually reducing
the leak rate. Q is defined as the ratio of the applied axial force
that will give the same flange total leak rate as the actual applied
Fig. 2 Leakage versus moment for NPS 16 class 300 flange moment divided by the equivalent axial force computed for the
with SW gasket applied moment for which the leak rate was determined. Q must

Journal of Pressure Vessel Technology MAY 2007, Vol. 129 / 335

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Table 1 Moment limits FT-LB

1.5 in. CL 300 3 in. CL 150 4 in. CL 150 8 in. CL 300 12 in. CL 150 16 in. CL 300a

Specified pressure 580 400 450 588 400 720

B16.5 equiv. P 35 Negative Negative 2,636 Negative 1,788
App. 2 equiv. P 204 175 1,140 6180 4,706 13,860
App. 2 equiv. F 453 445 2,245 9250 7400 18,850
B31 M L 3,374 1,543 4,400 19937 19,484 129,450
Sect. III M III 1,780 1,263 3,160 17022 22,259 108,900
M Data 2,215 3,416 6,270 23,630 58,333 114,000
Leak increase ratio 1.54 NA 1.82 1.45 NA 1.21
M based on Q 747c Noteb 2886 11100 Noteb 65,639

MAWP for App. 2 is 586 psi, less than applied pressure. Cold boltup governs and was ignored for theses calculations. App. BFJ flange is not adequate for bolt area; bolt area
reduced to comput tightness.
Bolting is not adequate for App. BFJ at applied pressure.
App. BFJ flange is not adequate for bolt area; bolt area reduced to comput tightness.

be either developed by more rigorous analysis, accounting for mine the axial force that gives the same total leak rate as the
distributed leakage on the gasket, or set equal to the conservative applied moment. The theoretical calculations indicate that Q may
value of 1.0. The following analysis develops a simplified equa- vary from zero at a low applied moment to 1 when it reaches the
tion for Q using the analytical model in the K-FLANGE software to point when the gasket begins to unload completely at the point of
integrate leakage around the perimeter of the gasket. maximum tension. Observing the shape of the curves in Figs. 4
Figure 4 is a plot of the Q factor versus external moment for the and 5, the data indicate that Q may be conservatively represented
same NPS 4 CL 150 flange with spiral wound gasket. Figure 5 is by a straight line from 0 to 1 as the moment goes from 0 to the
a plot of the Q factor versus external moment for both a soft point of separation.
spiral-wound and hard soft iron gasket. This illustrates that a If an equation can be developed that represents Q, then the
hard gasket is a very conservative assumption. Note that these affect of moment loading on leakage can be quantified for appli-
curves are developed from trial-and-error calculations to deter- cation in the Appendix BFJ rules. If we assume a linear relation-
ship from zero moment up to the point of separation, a conserva-
tive linear rigid gasket model, and a minimum assembly bolt
stress of 1.5 times the allowable, the following relationship can be
Q= 1
M E*
where M E = external applied bending moment

M E* =
1.5AbSb PAi + FA 2

The result of applying Eqs. 1 and 2 to the Appendix BFJ

rules are summarized in Table 1.
The shape of the leakage curves in Figs. 2 and 3, suggests that
there may be a moment that a flange joint can withstand without
excessive leakage. The allowable moment derived from the Q
factor approach provides a tightness basis, however some other
Fig. 4 Q versus external moment for NPS 4 class 150 flange
with SW graphite fill gasket
simple methods in use are compared, for the data sources dis-
cussed earlier, in Table 1. The B31 M L equation originated from a
report by Rodabaugh 10 developed for pipelines with standard
flanges and is currently in ASME B31.8. It is simply bolt force
minus pressure thrust without any consideration of a gasket force
to maintain tightness. The ASME Section III equation is limited to
standard B16.5 flanges with an allowable bolt stress greater than
20 ksi 138 MPa.

ML = C
SbAb PA P 3

M III = 3125SY /36000CAb 4

The comparisons in Table 1 indicate that the B16.5 equivalent
pressure method is very conservative and because the test pres-
sures were greater than the rated pressure, gave negative allow-
able moments. The equivalent pressure method applied to ASME
Sec. VIII Div. 1 1 Appendix 2 is better, but still very conserva-
tive. The allowable moment correlations M L and M III are in rea-
sonable agreement with the data; however, these are room-
Fig. 5 Q factor temperature tests in a laboratory. A joint in the field at elevated

336 / Vol. 129, MAY 2007 Transactions of the ASME

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temperature and steam or hydrocarbon in the unit may not have Ai effective pressure thrust area, in.2 mm2
the same margin on leak tightness. M L does not have provision for A p pressure thrust area to gasket o.d., in.2
residual tightness under a bending moment and does exceed the mm2
test moments in two of the cases. The problem is accounting for C bolt circle diameter, in. mm
actual assembly stress and joint relaxation as well as handling FY temperature strength factor
hard and aged gaskets. The Code approaches are conservative for FA axial load, lbs N
leakage because a rigid gasket is assumed. G gasket diameter, in. mm
If we assume that a flange joint is designed to ASME rules, Gs, Gb, a, k PVRC Gasket parameters
including flange rigidity limits, that the bolting selected is not
M M , M E, M *E,
excessive for the flange, that the flange joint is assembled to
M III, M L bending moments, in. lbs N mm
greater than 1.5 times the allowable bolt stress to account for
P internal pressure, psi MPa
relaxation by acceptable practices, such as ASME PCC-1, then a
similar, but more general equation can be derived units are Q factor for leakage with bending moment
pounds per inch Sa, Sb allowable bolt stress, ambient, operating,
psi MPa
MM =
FY CAb 5
SY flange yield strength, psi MPa

where FY is a reduction factor 1.0 to account for the reduction 1 ASME, 2001, ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code, Section VIII, Div. 1,
in strength of the bolts and flange at temperature ASME, New York.
2 Payne, J. R., Bazergui, A., and Leon, G. F., 1985, New Gasket FactorsA
Sb SY Proposed Procedure, ASME/PVP PVP Vol. 98.2.
FY = lesser of or 6 3 Bickford, J., 1998, Gaskets and Gasketed Joints, Marcel Dekker, New York.
Sa 36,000 4 K-Flange Software, Pi Engineering Software Inc., www.piengineeringsoft-
Equation 5 agrees with the ASME Section III 12 equation at ware.com
5 Waters, E. O., Rossheim, D. B., Wesstrom, D. B., and Williams, F. S. G., 1979,
room temperature for a carbon steel flange with B7 bolts. The use Development of General Formulas for Bolted Flanges, Pressure Vessel Re-
of Eq. 5 should also be restricted to ferritic steels and nominal search Council Monograph, August 1979, Reprint of 1949 Taylor Forge pub-
temperatures below the creep range until additional testing is lication.
available. 6 Koves, W. J., 1996, Analysis of Flange Joints Under External Loads, ASME
J. Pressure Vessel Technol., 118, pp. 5962.
7 Rodabaugh, E. C., and Moore, S. E., 1976, Evaluation of the Bolting and
Conclusions Flanges of ANSI B16.5 Flanged Joints ASME Part A Design Rules, ORNL/
Equation 1 was developed for use in Appendix BFJ tightness 8 Bibel, G., Fath, T., Palmer, W., Riedesel, R., and Westlind, T., 2001, Experi-
based criteria for external moments. A simple expression, Eq. 5, mental Leak Testing of 16 Inch Class 300RFWN Flange With and Without
is also suggested for limiting external moments without additional External Bending Moment, WRC Bulletin 461, May.
9 Birembaut, Y., Ledauphin, T., Masi, V., Bouzid, H., Derrene, M., and Martelli-
analysis. This would be applicable in both Appendix BFJ and the Garon, P., 2002, External Bending Moments on Bolted Gasketed Joints Part
current ASME Section VIII Division 1 1 Appendix 2. The 1: The Effects of Bending Moments on Bolted Gasketed Joints, WRC Bulle-
ASME rigid-gasket approach is conservative for both pressure and tin 473, July.
external moment loading. 10 Rodabaugh, E. C., and Atterbury, T. J., 1966, Flexibility and Stress Intensi-
fication Factors of Piping Components With Moment Loading, Battelle Me-
morial Institute Report to American Gas Association, Oct. 21.
11 Blick, R. G., 1950, Bending Moments and Leakage at Flanged Joints, Pe-
Nomenclature troleum Refiner, 1950, pp. 385391.
Ab total bolting area, in.2 mm2 12 ASME Section III Division 1-Subsection NC, para. NC-3658, July 1, 2005.

Journal of Pressure Vessel Technology MAY 2007, Vol. 129 / 337

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