Gasket Selection Concepts Taking

Account of Both Cost & Performance as
used on Refineries
Russ Currie
Applications Engineering Manager
Flexitallic Limited
+44 1274 853409 tel
+44 1274 851273 fax

All refineries use distillation to separate the crude oil into more useful components.
The more sophisticated refineries also use a variety of conversion process such as
Cracking, Alkylation, Desulphurisation and Reforming to improve the chemistry of
the feed-stocks. The simple process of distillation produces large quantities of heavy
oils and not enough of the lighter oils, which give a greater contribution to revenue.
Cracking is used to convert the heavier oils into the more valuable product gasoline,
diesel and gas by breaking down the heavier hydrocarbon compounds into simpler
lighter ones. There are 3 basic types of crackers, Thermal Cracker, Fluid catalytic
cracking and Hydrocracking.

Thermal cracking is where the hydrocarbon is broken down by heat alone.
FCC uses heat in the presence of a catalyst, which speeds up the chemical conversion,
then knocks out or Cracks one of the Carbon atoms in the long chain. The Catalyst
attracts the loose Carbon and subsequently needs cleaning or regenerating. The FCC
has advantages over the Thermal in those higher yields. The Hydrocracking uses heat,
catalyst and Hydrogen and produces more diesel products.

ERTC Reliability 2003, Barcelona, Spain Page 1 of 27 Flexitallic

The use of catalyst produced from spray drying slurry of silica gel and aluminium
hydroxide in itself can cause sealing issues due to the high stream velocities with
respect to erosion with catalyst velocities of 10 to 20m/s.

Since the first FCC unit went on stream in Baton Rouge in May 1942 many oil
companies have developed numerous varieties and one common issue has been the
increase in operating temperatures . The riser of the cracking from 500 to 540C to the
catalyst regeneration phase of 680 to 720C. Many FCC units have large storage
vessels for the catalyst, for fresh and balanced, a regenerator which cleans the
catalyst, a fractionator to tap off the various hydrocarbons after cracking, CO boilers
to produce steam and due to the large energy requirements to drive the system power
recovery trains. All of these activities require its own gasket specification. A typical
layout of a FCC is given in Figure 12.

The move towards and subsequent prohibition of asbestos fibre usage in static sealing
applications by most European countries resulted in the increase in the varieties and
types of materials in the manufacture of gaskets. The replacement of the asbestos fibre
with aramid, glass, carbon flake, rockwool, ptfe , Cellulose, graphite, vermiculite or
combinations of has resulted in a range of materials some of which perform per unit
currency inferior to that of asbestos. It is suggested that through the careful selection
of the type of materials used in the gasket can provide cost-effective sealing through
the duration of the life of the flange assembly. The paper discus’s some of the
available options and rationalises the required range to a minimum.

The initial selection of the type of gasket used is determined by the primary factors of
temperature, media and pressure. Each factor is of significance in the gasket
suitability and has to be considered to the possible effect. The secondary factors of
flange geometry, installation, equipment restrictions such as flange finish, cleanliness,
assembly life, life cycle cost drive the specification further.

The first generation, asbestos free, sheet gaskets were provided by suppliers after
relative short performance life tests and the limitations were exposed quickly. The

ERTC Reliability 2003, Barcelona, Spain Page 2 of 27 Flexitallic

Other styles of products other than “it” are therefore required to provide the full coverage. The effect of temperature on sealing materials produced by the calendering process (it). Above the 350 C threshold the issue of oxidation has resulted in several cases where pressure loss and subsequent leakage has been attributed to material loss. The long-term usage of the graphite has produced reliable sealing at temperatures below 350Centigrade “C”. filler systems. The use of graphite in sheet form continues to grow in popularity. The development of non-calandered products. The variety of different products led to some confusion and the trend is now to simplify selection by eliminating choice. contain minimal additives and are elastomer free. testing has shown that the levels of tightness and fluid sealing available with graphite based products are excellent. is severe. along with its usage in spiral wound technology. Barcelona. based on graphite. causing the filler systems to harden reducing the elastic properties of the products and its ability to accommodate cyclic conditions. This has led to some over specification but has reduced the confusion. The range of temperatures on major sites may be from cryogenic liquid Gas storage through to the catalyst regeneration above 750 Centigrade and exhaust stacks on recovery units. It also has some limitations regarding chemical resistance. This severity of effect is that the limitation of the “it” replacements to temperatures below 200 Centigrade and pressure class 150#. have provided high levels of sealing. or as a facing for corrugated and serrate metallic cores and is now the single most common combination of sealing materials in refineries. The effects caused by loss of binder are to reduce the sealing properties. Independent Pressure Vessel Research Council (PVRC). due to the complexity in the mix of the fibres. The graphite-based products often are high purity levels. curing agents and elastomers. Exfoliated graphite is a superb non-asbestos sealing material but it suffers from a major shortcoming – thermal oxidation. with or without various metallic inserts. Spain Page 3 of 27 Flexitallic .shortfall in expected performance compared to that of the asbestos based material has been such that many oil refineries now only use the products for blinding and non- critical service or where geometry restricts the use of metallic or semi-metallic composites. initiation of corrosion in seawater service and corrosion issues due to the sulphur and halogen content. The mechanism of failure in the cases were due to graphite oxidation from air surrounding ERTC Reliability 2003.5%. above 98.

Reference 3. sealing against poor surfaces are just some of the advantages. better performance in cyclic service. The soft deformable materials used as facing or as the filler material in the various static seals each have a limitation with regard to temperature. impure. With the selection of the right facing material and metallic core the increase in successful sealing first time is with us. it was not a cheap. The TTRL report included the following upper service temperature limits for various periods of service for graphite sheet gaskets: Required Service Life [Years] 10 5 3 I Upper Service Temperature [°C] 305 320 330 370 Upper Service Temperature [°F] 690 630 610 580 The use of additives. Figure 1c and 1d The advantages of having a soft outer layer on a static seal has been well demonstrated with the move from the solid metal / jacketed style to the soft faced alternatives. Growth in the business of the corrugated metal gasket with facings along with the serrated metal core show this. and was then corroborated by the Tightness Testing Research Laboratory (TTRL) at the Ecole Polytechnique at Montreal on behalf of the PVRC. Spain Page 4 of 27 Flexitallic . to reduce oxidation rate of graphite over such time scales have no significant beneficial effect. Recently the loss of graphite has been seen on all forms of sealing products at elevated temperatures. The ERTC Reliability 2003. such as phosphate inhibitors. In both cases the graphite used for the experimentation was from a high quality source. Several long-term tests have supported these phenomena.the assembly and not from media. imported material. Barcelona. References 1 and 2. Figure 1b. The maximum temperature issue is resolved with the move to a Vermiculite based solution. Figure 1a This conclusion regarding stress loss from graphite sheet gaskets was first observed by the Westinghouse company in the USA . Lower bolt stress.

Physical barriers between the media and the principle seal are used to slow the attack. The media in many refineries is relatively kind to many sealing materials with few excess of pH. which has been exfoliated by thermal (TEV) and chemical (CEV) action. Figure 2 shows the base mineral group Phyllosilicate family. A variety of sealing products relative performance can be seen in the appendix comparing the different sealing products for differing media. The Vermiculite (Thermiculite 815) material out performs the graphite (RGS) in resistance to media attack. Barcelona. where the two members of the Biotite and Phlogopite are modified through hydrothermal actions. ranging from plain sheet. sheet with metallic inserts. ERTC Reliability 2003. Figure 4. A more permanent solution to eliminate the cause not the effect can be made by selection of correct sealing materials. Figure 3. The use of physical barriers can provide limited success. The PVRC Room Operating Tightness Test constants for this material show the excellent performance of the Vermiculite product. The extremes of pH are satisfactorily dealt with ptfe based products. Once the CEV and TEV are combined the material can be used has a sealing material or converted to a product. with some strong acid. facings for semi metallic products and even as a filler for the traditional spiral wound technology. Further details are available on request. with some alkali’s used for neutralisation and cleaning.mixture of Vermiculite. Spain Page 5 of 27 Flexitallic . The continued development in the usage of this material has seen excellent growth for several years with exceptional service in a wide range of applications. Media affects the selection of sealing material. HF and Sulphuric as catalyst in Alkylation units. The largest single group of media on refineries are Hydrocarbons with differing chain molecular size give little concern to modern materials chemical compatibility. The failures associated with media attack can be slow with lengthy time between installation until the exposed edge of product is affected by the product until sufficient material loss causes loss of gasket stress. is combined to produce an extended service life over graphite at the elevated temperatures.

Many crackers operate in the low to medium pressure range. The usage of semi metallic products in circular applications is long established. Difficulties in welding procedures. The usage of sealing materials in a sheet form that can be easily modified on site. All of these products require welding to each of the flange faces and then finally closed using a radial weld. Even though the performance of the sheet gaskets can be shown to operate satisfactorily at levels above 150# pressure class this is often the ceiling level set. For the higher pressure spiral wound technology in single or double arrangements are used. the removal of old weld to gain access to the flange and number of available visits limit the usage of welded lip seals. The semi metallic gaskets are used with limited sealing face width and ERTC Reliability 2003. Figure 5. It is anticipated as confidence in usage increases this limit will be raised back and above old asbestos limits. Reference 5. Teflon and vermiculite. the range encountered is from Vacuum up to 1500# pressure class. Service conditions up to 150# pressure class are routinely encountered on site. with excellent stress retention and tightness levels. The metallic inserts provide strength in the uncompressed state and have limited functionality once the gasket has been installed. DIN2695 and see figure6. For ease the grouping is usually simplified into high. Spain Page 6 of 27 Flexitallic . medium and low. The materials showing good performance and service life are based around graphite. requirement of special angle flanges or slip on type. The conditions of the 1500# class can be sealed using the various spiral arrangements. with its widespread usage. Graphite has become the carbon steel of the sealing industry. Barcelona.Pressure is the final significant factor. particularly where high assembly stress preclude the usage of sheet products. give flexibility to maintenance. The case where the combination of high temperature and high pressure existed was up to recently addressed with the usage of welded membranes. High levels of sealing are obtained using the product. Products are now available which offer the high levels of sealing associated with non-metallic items with the high temperature stability of metallic products. The top performing products usually have a tanged metal insert and are free from adhesives. This arrangement of gasket with a soft facing and strong core is often a good characteristic of a successful sealing product. This is where the flange connection is welded together to produce gas tight. providing good service.

and a typical Load v Deflection Curve Figure 8a and the Sealing Curve 8b show this. modification of sealing element on a spiral with Vermiculite show high sealing. The technology has advanced and another site regenerator has succesfuly moved onto using the Vermiculite as the sealing element. see figure 9. where there is a metallic envelope.without limitation on compression. Spiral wound technology performs excellently in application with radial shear. Spiral wound gaskets are associated with high assembly stress which can be problematic for low strength flanges. The carrier ring divorces the requirement of the sealing element from the assembly and provides a user friendly installation. Figure 7a. sealing element and external ring is the most popular combinations with spiral wound technology. The minimum seating stress requirements for the standard construction spiral wound are difficult to achieve. Depending on diameter and thickness this could be in several forms. The suitability of the spiral wound gasket with the internal ring on Vacuum service is well documented. Barcelona. The layout is given in Figure 7. A recent application involving a Coke Production unit the low assembly stress was addressed using modified low stress sealing elements with Vermiculite. The carrier ring has been used successfully on large access doors to regenerator vessel where the stability of the gasket is important. The load transfer through the sealing element is poor. Spain Page 7 of 27 Flexitallic . The typical style jacketed gasket which contains an asbestos filler was previously used. The high recovery carrier ring offers system integrity at the elevated temperatures even where extremes of thermal shock are encountered. which is cold worked into a variety of shapes around a soft non-metallic core. On high stress applications such as pumps this usually is totally enclosed. Recent work in . The use of jacketed technology ERTC Reliability 2003. The gasket used is 2850mm o/d with a metal carrier of 250kg. This combination of internal ring. The stability of the product is maintained against the negative pressure by the containment of the chevron-sealing element by the internal ring. The disadvantages of the large spiral are the sealing element is used to keep assembly together. Experience has shown high surface stress are required to deform the metal outer jacket to the flange surface and seal. A regenerator door on a Long Residue FCC in the UK has been utilising this technology on the last two turnaround.

The problem of leaving a percentage of the facing behind on the flange has not been addressed with the technology. The use of ptfe based facing as well as Vermiculite continue to solve solutions to problematic flanges. The serrated metal core style of gasket can be supplied with integral or loose outer rings. These had a composite sealing element of mica and graphite. This approach depends on the variety of applications the site has to service but several have taken this view and selected a modified ptfe. The styles are given in figure 10. This is where a metal core has predetermined shape formed onto the top and bottom sealing surface. To assist with the selection process for the application a guide is given. Barcelona. Up to know the only applications involving Flexpro on FCC have been on the overhead CO lines from the regenerator outlet to the power recovery. This rigidity assists with the installation issues over the reinforced sheet laminates on gaskets above 24 inch NPS. This arrangement has been used succesfully on exhaust stack with daimeters above 2500mm with uneven flanges. so that the chance of wrong selection is removed. These are then subsequently faced with a softer material. often at a cost penalty. The use of non-stick coatings do assist with the cleaning of flange faces where this is an issue. Vermiculite or graphite product to satisfy all needs. figure 11. The combination of metallic corrugated core with deformable faces has given rigidity to the low-pressure product. The adavantage of moving to a Vermiculite based product will be the next evolution removing the oxidation issues previously noted.with soft deformable facing has provided an effective way of transporting the soft facing onto the flange faces. The issue of using confusion over which of the effective materials has been approached in some areas by the selecting a universal product. Spain Page 8 of 27 Flexitallic . The use of the Non exfoliated brands of Mica do provide some level of sealing offering low pressure sealing but are inferior to the exfoliated varieties who seal above their 5Bar limit. Offshore where the temperature range is less than downstream have had success in this direction. An increase in serrated metal core products continues. ERTC Reliability 2003. sometimes a metal.

The usage of semi -metallic technology with the new materials have been succesful on field trials on several refineries under various conditions and style of gasket. at elevated temperatures. Barcelona. This concern can be removed by using products based on Vermiculite. Spain Page 9 of 27 Flexitallic . have limitations with respect to service life. ERTC Reliability 2003.Conclusion The usage of gaskets based on Graphite products.

Barcelona. Figure 1a Flexible Graphite Relaxation versus Temperature ERTC Reliability 2003. Spain Page 10 of 27 Flexitallic .

Spain Page 11 of 27 Flexitallic .Figure 1b Cumulative Weight loss of Graphites at Various Temperature over time ERTC Reliability 2003. Barcelona.

Figure 1c Graphite loss in a spiral wound gasket ERTC Reliability 2003. Spain Page 12 of 27 Flexitallic . Barcelona.

Barcelona.Figure 1dTanged Core with Graphite Loss ERTC Reliability 2003. Spain Page 13 of 27 Flexitallic .

ERTC Reliability 2003. Barcelona. Spain Page 14 of 27 Flexitallic .

Spain Page 15 of 27 Flexitallic . Barcelona.Figure 3 PVRC constants for Thermiculite 815 sheet materials ERTC Reliability 2003.

Spain Page 16 of 27 Flexitallic . Barcelona. Figure 4 Chemical Compatibility of different Materials Key SF3300 Aramid / Glass Sheet Gasket NBR SF2400/SF2800 Rockwool / Aramid Sheet Gasket NBR SF1670 Cellulose Sheet NBR SF2500 Rockwool / Aramid Hypalon Sigma modified Teflon RGS reinforced Graphite Sheet Thermiculite 815 = Vermiculite based product ERTC Reliability 2003.

Spain Page 17 of 27 Flexitallic . Barcelona. Figure 5 Impression of a section of a Tanged Core ERTC Reliability 2003.

Spain Page 18 of 27 Flexitallic . Figure 6 Metallic Lip Seals Styles ERTC Reliability 2003. Barcelona.

Figure 7 Modified Sealing Element Low Stress “LS” ERTC Reliability 2003. Spain Page 19 of 27 Flexitallic . Barcelona.

Figure 7a Cross section through carrier ring ERTC Reliability 2003. Spain Page 20 of 27 Flexitallic . Barcelona.

5 5 Displacement [mm] Figure 8a Compression Characteristic of a Vermiculite Filled Spiral Wound Gasket ERTC Reliability 2003.5 4 4.6 Date 9th May 2003 Load @ Guide Ring = 117. Barcelona. Spain Page 21 of 27 Flexitallic .5 3 3. SO145328 .83mm 140 120 100 Load [kN] 80 60 40 20 0 2 2.0kN Final Thickness = 2.

80 43 1300 2.00 26 790 2.20 . - 3. Spain Page 22 of 27 Flexitallic .30 14 390 3.60 7 140 3.90 35 950 2.40 12 300 3.50 80 2600 Figure 8b Sealing Data for a Vermiculite Spiral Wound Gasket on Nitrogen Gas ERTC Reliability 2003.50 10 230 3.70 5 80 3. Table of Results Gasket Load [kN] Sealing Thickness [mm] Pressure [PSI] 3.10 . Barcelona. - 3.70 52 1800 2.60 65 2200 2.

Spain Page 23 of 27 Flexitallic . Barcelona.Figure 9 Styles of Jacketed Gasket ERTC Reliability 2003.

Figure 10 Cross Section through a Serrated Metal Core Gaskets ( Flexpro ) ERTC Reliability 2003. Barcelona. Spain Page 24 of 27 Flexitallic .

Barcelona. Spain Page 25 of 27 Flexitallic . Figure 11 Decision Tree on Gasket Selection ERTC Reliability 2003.

Figure 12 Typical Layout of FCC ERTC Reliability 2003. Spain Page 26 of 27 Flexitallic . Barcelona.

B. Marchand..R. MA.Reference 1 Seth. J. Payne. Lip Seal DIN 2695 6. Presented at the ASME/IEEE Power Generation Conference. www. Flexitallic Gasket Design Brochure 5. p 43 – 45. W. W. Barcelona. M. October 21-25 1990.B. December 1995 4. L. and Jones.Conoco.: ‘Elevated Temperature Characterisation of Flexible Graphite Sheet Materials for Bolted Flanged Joints’. 3 Derenne.F. and Jones. U.F.. ‘Replacing Steam Path Gaskets’. B. ‘Evaluation of Asbestos Free Gasket Materials’. Boston. Power Engineering... March 1992. Spain Page 27 of 27 Flexitallic . and Muzzo. 2 website on layout of FCC.B. Final Report of Combined PVRC Projects 91-8 and 93-3. ERTC Reliability 2003.