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Experimental research regarding gaskets durability

Mihaela Pa˘unescu
Mechanical Engineering Department, Politehnica University of Bucharest, Spl. Independent ¸ei 313, 060042 Bucharest, Romania
Received 21 March 2005; received in revised form 23 August 2005; accepted 12 November 2005
Available online 18 January 2006
Abstract
This paper presents the results of an experimental research regarding ‘It’ gaskets behavior, used for sealing flanged joints of the pressure vessels
and pipes working in variable pressure conditions.
The experimental installation and the processing method of experimental data for tested gaskets are described in the frame of this paper.
Research results are presented by graphics, depending of geometrical gaskets parameters: variation of cycle amplitude of internal pressure vs.
numbers of working cycles of flanged joints before tightness loss.
Experimental data are used for establishing a general relation of gasket durability, taking into account their different thicknesses and widths in
pulsating pressure conditions.
This relation may be used in flanged joints designing for the determination of the safe lifetime of gasket, the most sensitive element of this
construction.
q 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Fatigue; Lifetime; Flanged joint; Gasket; Durability
1. Introduction
The tightness of flanged joints contributes to maintaining
under safe working conditions numerous equipments in
chemical, food, energetic, and metallurgical industry, as well
as in other spheres of activities. Practically, one can say that the
flanged joints are used in all industrial domains, in the
structures of equipment or installations.
Taking into account the flanged joints constructive and
functional importance, as well as the economical and
ecological effects during possible damages [1,2], a correct
design of flanged joints has to be made after all factors which
may influence tightness quality are identified.
Fromconstructive point of view, these factors may depend on
practically adopted solutions for flanges execution (material,
shape of tightness surface, thickness of flanges, etc.), gaskets
and screws, the difference between thickness of flange and
vessel wall, welding between flange and vessel too [3].
Assemblage and working conditions must not be ignored
because they may significantly influence the tightness:
assemblage value force of screws, nonuniform tightened
screws, environment conditions, working temperature and
pressure, relaxation and creep of joints materials, etc.
If combined effects of these factors are not correctly
determined and the adopted solutions are not the suitable ones,
the tightness may be lost because of rotation or circumference
deformation of flanges (Fig. 1).
On the other hand, it may be considered that, during its life,
a flanged joint covers more working stages with pressure and
temperature variations (primary tightens without internal
pressure, hydraulic pressure test, transient state, exploitation).
For this reason calculus of strength for flanged joint must
include a fatigue checking for working stages [4–6].
Literature data confirm that the gasket is the most sensitive
element from fatigue point of view, being stressed by pulsate
cycle of working pressure acting on cylindrical internal area.
Under these circumstances and taking into account that the
material of the most gaskets is ‘It’, this paper examines the
fatigue behavior of ring gaskets made from this material.
It may be noticed that fatigue tests were done not on test
specimens, but on real gaskets with different thicknesses and
widths, in real working conditions.
2. Experimental procedure
Due to numerous numbers of factors, which may influence
flanged joints durability, the experiments presented in this
paper were limited to establishing the influence of gasket
geometrical parameters on cycle number of internal pressure
variations till the flanged joints lose their tightness.
International Journal of Fatigue 28 (2006) 1081–1086
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0142-1123/$ - see front matter q 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.ijfatigue.2005.11.010
E-mail address: mpaunescu2002@yahoo.com
There must also be mentioned that the temperature of
operation, as well as the material type of gasket, have a
big influence on tightness of flanged joint, in all its
phases of operation. The experimental research of these
problems is very complicated and represents the subject of
another work.
According to European Sealing Association classification
[2], the studied gaskets are ‘soft gaskets’ (non-metallic),
manufactured by the ‘It’ calendering process, in which the
mixture (a wide variety of fibers: aromatic amide fiber,
asbestos, carbon fiber, cellulose, glass, etc.; fillers and binders)
is compressed between two rollers.
Because each type of material behaves differently to fatigue,
the results obtained in the frame of this paper are valid just for
the tested material.
Thus, for these tests it was used a compressed material,
surpasses by far technical specifications of DIN 3754/It C (It
400). Its main components are the rubber (25%) and the
asbestos (75%) [7].
With experimental equipment, presented in Fig. 2, one may
establish the number of cycles until the flanged joint loses its
tightness, depending on gasket geometrical parameters and the
amplitude of internal pressure cycle variation [8,9].
There were tested gaskets with following thicknesses: T
1
Z
1.5 mm, T
2
Z3 mm, T
3
Z4 mm, and widths W
1
Z5 mm, W
2
Z
10 and W
3
Z20 mm.
According to experimental equipment dimensions, the
external diameters for all tested gaskets were limited to D
e
Z
100 mm and the internal corresponding diameters are D
i1
Z90,
D
i2
Z80 and D
i3
Z60 mm (Fig. 3).
To determine the gaskets dimensions preliminary tests were
made. Thus, it was established that in the case of the gaskets
with very near thicknesses or widths the results mixed up and it
is not possible to draw a conclusion upon the influence of
gaskets dimensions to tightness [8]. In the same time there were
selected those gaskets dimensions which are used in particular
for low and medium pressure vessels and pipes.
It is important to say that the experimental equipment was
designed in such a way as to simulate the ideal working
conditions of a gasket from a flanged joint. The experimental
equipment has the following features:
– it ensures uniform compression of the gasket; flanges
rotations and deformations caused by screws tightening are
eliminated;
– specifically pressure on the gasket, achieved by an initial
tightening of screws is qZ8 N/mm
2
for all tested
gaskets;
Fig. 1. Flanged joints deformation under internal pressure and screw forces
action: 1, flange; 2, screw; 3, gasket; 4, nut; 5, washer; 6, vessel.
Fig. 2. Experimental set-up: 1, gasket; 2, pressing piece; 3, support; 4, piston; 5, hydraulic cylinder; 6, pump; 7, hydraulic distributor; 8, reservoir for oil; 9, pump; 10,
manometer; 11, comparator; 12, sphere; 13, manometer; 14, 15, stopcocks; 16, stopper for air put out; 17, reservoir for oil; 18, hydraulic distributor; 19, device for
pressure adjustment; 20, hydraulic accumulator; 21, delay system; 22, meter; 23, pump; 24, 25, stopcocks.
M. Pa˘unescu / International Journal of Fatigue 28 (2006) 1081–1086 1082
– the gaskets are tested on a pulsate cycle fatigue
conditions, with a constant variation amplitude of
internal pressure (p
min
Z0; p
max
ZDp);
– every gasket was tested to three different amplitudes of
cycle, the pressure variations of the working equipment
being between 0, 1 and 15 N/mm
2
;
– the frequency of pressure pulsation was set to
12 cycles/min for all experiments;
– experimental temperature is of 20 8C and working fluid is
water.
Because of the working pressure action on internal
cylindrical gasket surface and on compressing elements
(Fig. 3) the gasket will tend to increase its diameter and, at
the same time, due to its elastic-plastically proprieties, to grow
its thickness.
On the other hand, when internal pressure wanes to zero,
during pulsate cycle, gasket will tend to previous dimensions of
pressure fluid action (i.e. reduction of diameter and thickness).
It is evident that these deformations repeated in time, will
cause the fatigue of gasket material and tightness loss, finally,
that means the appearance of the liquid drop on external gasket
surface.
The work does not analyze the mechanism of material
degradation, but only the effect of this mechanism. The
mechanism of degradation of the gasket is considered to be
the mechanism of degradation of the rubber. Only in this case
the state of material fatigue of gasket can be identified with the
occurrence of liquid drops at the exterior superficies of the
gasket [10,11].
The working parameters were established beforehand, upon
further static tests. The method for experimental data
processing and dispersed results from fatigue test imposes a
number of five identical gaskets to be tested in the same
conditions. Finally, a number of 187 gaskets were necessary to
be tested because some of them had structural defects and were
not used for a later processing.
3. Results and discussions
After experimental tests of gaskets tightness to pulsate
pressure, the number of working cycles until tightness loss is
established. It depends both on gasket geometry (T, W) and
amplitude of working cycle (Dp). Taking into account that, in
general, the results obtained in fatigue research have a high
degree of dispersion, a data statistical processing is necessary,
for the determination of the curve of average durability and the
reliability zone of average durability [9,10].
For this it is necessary to determine the average durability
values, for every pressure amplitude stage, constant main-
tained, with relation;
log N Z
P
n
iZ1
log N
i
n
; (1)
where N
i
is the number of working cycles until tightness loss,
experimentally established, and n, the gaskets number tested on
the same amplitude of the cycle (nZ5).
The average durability values are determined for con-
structive sets that are done by nine gaskets. That means gaskets
having three widths, each of them with three thicknesses.
By means of N values, thus determined, the curves of
average durability NZf(Dp) are drawn. These curves indicate a
50% tightness loss probability. Because the representations
are double logarithmic, the nine diagrams are straight
lines (Figs. 4–6).
Fig. 3. Action of pressured fluid: 1, pressing piece; 2, gasket; 3, support of
gasket.
Fig. 5. Plot of inner pressure range, Dp, vs. number of cycles until tightness
loss, N, for 3.0 mm thickness gaskets: 4, W
1
Z5 mm; 5, W
2
Z10 mm; 6, W
3
Z
20 mm.
Fig. 4. Plot of inner pressure range, Dp, vs. number of cycles until tightness
loss, N, for 1.5 mm thickness gaskets: 1, W
1
Z5 mm; 2, W
2
Z10 mm; 3, W
3
Z
20 mm.
M. Pa˘unescu / International Journal of Fatigue 28 (2006) 1081–1086 1083
For the validation of the results, for each of the nine
experimental straight lines the average standard error values
must be established
s Z
1
b
n
ffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi
P
n
iZ1
ðlog N
i
Klog NÞ
2
n
v
u
u
u
t
; (2)
and the average durability’s error values
s
log N
Zt
a
ffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi
P
n
iZ1
ðlog N
i
Klog NÞ
2
nðnK1Þ
v
u
u
u
t
; (3)
In the previous relations b
n
is a coefficient of correction
depending on the number of tested gaskets (for nZ5, b
n
Z
0.798) and t
a
is the Student variable, which depends on the
number of tested gaskets and imposes a degree of trust, too, for
example, for nZ5 and aZ95%, t
a
Z2.673.
The next step is the determination of reliability zone of
average, where a% of average durability values, experimen-
tally determined, is possibly placed (i.e. aZ95%)
log N
I;II
Zlog NGs
log N
; (4)
and the reliability zone of tests series too, where a
1%
of
experimental tests are possibly placed (i.e. a
1
Z95%)
log N
III;IV
Zlog NGp
a
s; (5)
where p
a
is the coefficient for calculation the reliability zone of
tests series: p
95%
Z1.96.
The results of statistical processing of the experimental tests
concerning one type of studied gasket durability is presented in
the Fig. 7: T
1
Z1.5 mm, W
1
Z5 mm (line 1 from Fig. 4).
For having a conclusion concerning the geometrical
parameters influence on the durability of tested gaskets, the
nine mean durability curves from Figs. 4–6 are superposed.
The researches about influence of thickness on the cycle
number until tightness loss N, reveal that the experimental
results are situated in the same dispersion band for all gaskets
with the same width (Fig. 8): 1, 4 and 7 lines for W
1
Z5 mm
and thicknesses of 1.5, 3, 4 mm, respectively; 2, 5, and 8 lines
for W
2
Z10 mm and thicknesses of 1.5, 3, 4 mm, respectively;
3, 6 and 9 lines for W
3
Z20 mm and thicknesses of 1.5, 3,
4 mm, respectively.
I, II and III lines are drawn, using arithmetic averages of
experimental results for the gaskets with three different
thicknesses and the same width (Fig. 8).
In concordance with experimental results, the general
mathematical relation that describes fatigue phenomenon of
‘It’ gaskets working in pressure pulsation cycle may be
Fig. 6. Plot of inner pressure range, Dp, vs. number of cycles until tightness
loss, N, for 4.0 mm thickness gaskets: 7, W
1
Z5 mm; 8, W
2
Z10 mm; 9, W
3
Z
20 mm.
Fig. 7. Reliability zone of average (A) and reliability zone of tests series (B) for the gasket with thickness T
1
Z1.5 mm and width W
1
Z5 mm: 1, tightness loss for
50% of gaskets (the values of average durability); 2, tightness loss for 5% of gaskets; 3, tightness loss for 95% of gaskets.
M. Pa˘unescu / International Journal of Fatigue 28 (2006) 1081–1086 1084
determined. For this, first of all, analytical expressions for I, II
and III lines are determined.
So, according to the curves from Fig. 8, the form of
analytical equations of the lines is
Y Zlog bKaX; (6)
and they proceed from the linearization of the power function
Dp ZbN
Ka
; (7)
which is represented in logarithmic coordinates: XZlog N;
YZlog Dp.
The coefficient b and the exponent a are obtained by the
regression of experimental data using the least squares method i
a Z
m
P
m
iZ1
X
i
Y
i
K
P
m
iZ1
X
i
P
m
iZ1
Y
i
m
P
m
iZ1
X
2
i
K
P
m
iZ1
X
i

2
; (8)
log b Z
P
m
iZ1
Y
i
m
Ka
P
m
iZ1
X
i
m
: (9)
In the previous relations X
i
and Y
i
represent the coordinates of
the points of the line drawnbasedonexperimental data, andm, the
number of experimental points.
Behind the researches, the following expressions for the
analyzed lines were obtained
–for I line : Y Z8:512K0:405X; (10)
–for II line : Y Z17:377K0:428X;
–for III line : Y Z35:395K0:497X:
Examining these equations someone may say that they
represent approximately parallel lines; in these conditions
someone may suppose that the absolute term from these
equations depend on the product between a constant and
external area A
e
and internal area A
i
ratio of the gaskets; the
external area means the sealing surface and the internal area
means cylindrical surface on which internal pressure works.
Having this assumption in view, the recommended relation
is
Y Z4:92
A
e
A
i
K0:443X; (11)
or taking into account relation (7),
Dp Z4:92
A
e
A
i
N
K0:443
; (12)
meaning
N Z 4:92
A
e
A
i
1
Dp

1=0:443
; (13)
Finally, the admissible number of cycles until tightness loss
may be obtained with
N
a
Z
N
C
NE
C
R
; (14)
where C
NE
is safety factor of the number of cycles until
tightness loss [12]
C
NE
Z10
ðz logð1=T
N
ÞÞ=2:564
; (15)
and C
R
, the risk factor
C
R
Z
1
T
N

ð1=1:56
ffiffi
n
p
Þ
: (16)
In previous relations z is a coefficient obtained from Table 1,
relying on damage probability P
A
, n, the number of tested
gaskets and T
N
, the experimental data dispersion
Fig. 8. Gaskets width and thickness influence to number of cycles until tightness loss: 1, 4, 7—gaskets with thickness 1.5, 3.0, 4.0 mm, respectively, and width W
1
Z
5 mm; 2, 5, 8, gaskets with thickness 1.5, 3.0, 4.0 mm, respectively, and width W
2
Z10 mm; 3, 6, 9—gaskets with thickness 1.5, 3.0, 4.0 mm, respectively, and width
W
3
Z20 mm.
M. Pa˘unescu / International Journal of Fatigue 28 (2006) 1081–1086 1085
T
N
Z
NðP
95%
Þ
NðP
5%
Þ
: (17)
In the relation (17), N(P
95%
) and N(P
5%
) represent the
numbers of cycles which were read on tightness loss curves at
the same value of the amplitude of the working cycle Dp, in the
case of tightness loss probability of 95 and 5%, respectively
(Fig. 8).
The safety factor of the number of cycles until tightness loss
may practically change between 3 and 5, depending on fluid
that must be sealed.
For toxic, inflammable, explosive or lethal fluid, high values
of safety factor will be taken.
In the situation in which a small number of gaskets were
tested, there is the danger for overestimating the safety of
sealing, if the experimental results were very good. In this case,
besides the establishing of the safety factor C
NE
, the risk factor
C
R
is also recommended to be determinated.
On the assumption that the dispersion of results has a normal
distribution and with a degree of trust of 95%, the risk factor
may be established with the relation (16).
4. Conclusions
Taking account of theoretical considerations and exper-
imental results concerning the flanged joints working in pulsate
pressure conditions, endowed with ‘It’ gaskets, someone
reaches the following conclusions:
† On the basis of numerous and complicated tests, the
diagrams showing the dependence of the cycle amplitude of
internal pressure variation and the number of working cycle
for flanged joints until tightness loss, using gaskets with
different thicknesses and widths were determined.
† The author established a relation for the number of
admissible cycles until tightness loss, valid for gaskets
having the thicknesses between 1.5 and 4 mm and widths
between 5 and 20 mm.
This relation may be used during flange designing; with the
help of this the safety lifetime of the gasket is determined, this
being the most sensitive construction element of the flanged
joint.
† It was established that the value of the amplitude of the
working cycle of the internal pressure is inversely
proportional with the number of cycles until tightness loss.
† The gaskets with high width, W
3
Z20 mm, have a superior
behavior in comparison with those with small width
(W
2
Z10 mm and W
1
Z5 mm) from tightness point of
view and they resist to a bigger number of pulsation
pressure cycles of internal pressure.
This phenomenon is explicable inasmuch as, in the case of
gaskets with small width, the internal pressure variations will
easier destroy the connection between gasket elements (fibers,
fillers and binders) because there is a smaller mass of the
material that is fatigued.
† Experimental researches made evident that the influence of
the gasket thickness on flanged joint sealing is smaller than
the influence of gasket width.
However, it must be noticed that with the same gasket width
value, the gaskets with small thickness (T
1
Z1.5 mm) have a
superior behavior than the gaskets with bigger thickness (T
2
Z
3 mm and T
1
Z4 mm), from the sealing point of view.
So, the gaskets with bigger thickness offer a bigger internal
cylindrical area for pressure fluid action, than thin gaskets and
the material fatigue effect will be increased.
† Because tests are done at a temperature of 20 8C, these
findings are only relevant for this temperature. The
influence of temperature about flanged joint represents the
subject of anther work.
References
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Table 1
Values of z coefficient vs. damage probability P
A
P
A
(%) 50 10 1.0 0.1 0.01
z 0 1.28 2.33 3.09 3.72
M. Pa˘unescu / International Journal of Fatigue 28 (2006) 1081–1086 1086