Although heat exchangers are built according to international codes and proved to be leak tight by hydrotesting at ambient temperature, leak of stainless steel heat exchangers girth flanges at the tubesheet gaskets likely occurs during startup and operation at high temperatures. Accordingly, evaluation of the design to assure leak free operation considering anticipated thermal events is required.

WRC 510 bulletin [4] introduces a simplified analytical method to address this issue and provides safe guarding against leakage.

This study is performed on solid 300 series stainless stationary tubesheet flanged with girth flanges having the same or different material of construction.

A thermal finite element analysis is performed to obtain the transient temperature distribution through a girth flanges and stationary tubesheet assembly of a heat exchanger using SOLIDWORKS® SIMULATION [7]. The model of the flanged joint consists of two girth flanges with a tubesheet and gaskets in between. Thermal time dependent transient analysis of the above model is conducted to compute the temperature distribution in the flanged joint assembly for different time steps.

Further, these temperature distributions are used to compute the expansion, deflection and rotation for the flanged joint parts using WRC 510 bulletin [4] equations.

The study determines both the permissible heating rates during startup and the temperature limits, for the example studied, which are suitable for using solid 300 series stainless tubesheet for both material types of the girth flanges to have the most leak tight & economical assembly when the minimum design metal temperature allows these materials.

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