A bolted flange joint was in cyclic temperature and pressure service in a natural gas dehydrator (mole sieve) vessel. The flange joint suffered from multiple failures on a frequent (9 month) basis.
This paper details the investigation into the failure and highlights the most probable cause of failure. A finite element analysis of the pressure and temperature transients in the bolted flange joint pointed to the temperature cycle as tending to unload the joint. Then, a parametric study was undertaken to evaluate the effectiveness of potential solutions.
The bolted flange joint was placed back into service and has been operating for more than three times the prior mean time between failures.