Bolted flanged connections (BFC) in North America and throughout the world are designed, fabricated and constructed according to several design codes and component standards including the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code and ASME B31 Piping Codes. Despite the considerable engineering controls in place to ensure proper equipment design, bolted flange connections are all too often the source of leaks, fugitive emissions and process shutdowns in the process industries. A significant contributing cause of flange leaks is the limited understanding, of and improper selection and application of optimum assembly preloads on flange fasteners. Currently there are several “rule of thumb” approaches for identifying assembly bolt preload; each of these has limitations and short-comings that practitioners of these approaches need to be aware of. A new approach providing guidance to the selection of assembly preload bolt stresses is detailed.

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