End fitting is an essential component of flexible pipes enabling their connection between moving structures and pipes to create a complete pipe infrastructure. Designing the end fitting requires careful consideration of many factors including creating an effective barrier seal, termination of all the polymer and metal layers and anchoring armor layers so that the external loads of the pipe are transferred to the connecting structure without disturbing the seal. The most difficult challenge in designing end fittings for ultra-high pressure pipes is creating the necessary barrier sealing performance. In general, the seal needs to perform to approximately twice the design pressure of the pipe so that it can sustain the burst condition of the pipe. This requires the sealing components to be subjected to extreme loading where most of the sealing components are subjected to severe plastic deformation. Understanding seal deformations and quantifying and demonstrating sealing performance are important in the development of a reliable seal. This paper describes a method of evaluating the sealing performance of end fitting seals. Design requirements of end fitting seals are also described.
The barrier seals in end fittings are normally created by swaging a metal seal ring in between the polymer barrier and the body of the fitting. This creates two leak paths, one between the metal ring and the barrier and the other at the metal-to-metal contact interface between the seal ring and the body. Achieving sufficient compression on the polymer barrier and creating sufficient contact pressure over a reasonable distance at the metal-to-metal interface are the key requirements in developing a reliable high pressure barrier seal. During this study, finite element models have been used to evaluate the contact pressure at seal contacts. These results, with a specifically developed leak criteria, have been used to evaluate the sealing performance. A brief description of the models and some specific results are presented. The FE model predictions are compared with the actual contact pressure measurements of a sealing setup.