In the present paper, the gasket stress distributions, hub stress and a variation in axial bolt force in bolted gasketed pipe flange connections under internal pressure are analyzed using elasto-plastic FEM taking into account the nonlinearity of gasket behavior. Non-asbestos spiral wound gaskets were employed. The effect of nominal flange diameter is examined on the gasket contact stress distributions, the hub stress and the variation in axial bolt force (the load factor) is examined. Using the obtained gasket contact stress distribution and the fundamental data of the relationship between gasket compressive stress and gasket leak rate according to JIS B 2490, a method for predicting the leak rate is demonstrated. Experiments to measure the amount of leakage, the hub stress and the variation in axial bolt force when the joint is under internal pressure were carried out. The numerical results of the leak rate, hub stress and the load factor are in a fairly good agreement with the measured results. Then, a method is demonstrated for determining the bolt preload under given conditions, that is, taking into account assembly efficiency, leak rate and internal pressure In addition, bolt preload is determined using the actual gasket contact stress which can be estimated using the value of the load factor. As a design example, the procedure for determining the bolt preload in 3″ and 20″ nominal diameter pipe flange connections is shown for the allowable leak rate of 1.0−3Pa • m3/s. The results are validated by the experiments.

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