It is known that bolt forces reduce significantly after tightening bolted flanged connections in which expanded PTFE gaskets are used. Bolts are often post-tightened in practice after initial tightening to compensate for the reduction of bolt forces. The viscoelastic characteristic of expanded PTFE gaskets is thought to be the main cause for the phenomenon. Some gasket users are not confident whether the bolt forces remain above a minimum required gasket load until next maintenance. However, the long term characteristics of the residual bolt forces and the sealing performance of flanged connections have not been clarified yet.
In this study, using flanged connections with expanded PTFE gaskets, the reduction of bolt forces and the change in the sealing performance were measured at room temperature for one year. Based on the test results, the residual bolt force and the sealing performance were studied.
It was clarified that bolt forces converges to a certain level at early stage within almost 1000 hours. After that, the bolt forces were significantly affected by the ambient temperature change. This is because the thermal expansion of PTFE material is high and also the thermal characteristic of PTFE material has a temperature dependency. It was confirmed that although the bolt force reduced significantly at early stage, it is maintained in long-term. The sealing performance was improved due to the increased compression of gasket.