Performance of a bolted flange joint is characterized mainly due to its ‘strength’ and ‘sealing capability’. A number of numerical and experimental studies have been conducted to study these characteristics mostly under internal pressure loading. A very limited work is found in literature under combined internal pressure and axial loading. Due to the ignorance of this external (i.e. axial) loading, the optimized performance of the bolted flange joint cannot be achieved. The present design codes do not address the effects of axial loading on the structural integrity and sealing ability. To investigate, joint strength and sealing capability under combined loading, extensive numerical study of a gasketed flange joint is carried out. Actual joint load capacity is determined under both the design and proof test pressure with maximum additional external axial loading that can be applied for safe joint performance. Numerical results are compared with the available experimental results and overall joint performance and behavior is discussed in detail.

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