Leaking valves have forced shutdown in many nuclear power plants. The myth of zero leakage or adequate sealing must give way to more realistic maximum leak rate criterion in design of nuclear bolted flange joints and valve packed stuffing boxes. It is well established that the predicting leakage in these pressure vessel components is a major engineering challenge to designers. This is particularly true in nuclear valves due to different working conditions and material variations. The prediction of the leak rate through packing rings is not a straightforward task to achieve. This work presents a study on the ability of microchannel flow models to predict leak rates through packing rings made of flexible graphite. A methodology based on experimental characterization of packing material porosity parameters is developed to predict leak rates at different compression stress levels. Three different models are compared to predict leakage; the diffusive and second-order flow models are derived from Naiver–Stokes equations and incorporate the boundary conditions of an intermediate flow regime to cover the wide range of leak rate levels and the lattice model is based on porous media of packing rings as packing bed (Dp). The flow porosity parameters (N,R) of the microchannels assumed to simulate the leak paths present in the packing are obtained experimentally. The predicted leak rates from different gases (He,N2,andAr) are compared to those measured experimentally in which the set of packing rings is mainly subjected to different gland stresses and pressures.

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