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WRC Bulletin 538,

Second Edition

ISSN 2372-1057

WRC PVRC MPC


The Welding Research Council, Inc.

Determination of
Pressure Boundary
Joint Assembly Bolt
Loads

W. Brown
Integrity Engineering Solutions
INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK

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WRC Bulletin 538
Determination of Pressure Boundary Joint Assembly Bolt Loads

WRC - The Welding Research Council brings together science and engineering specialists in
developing the solutions to problems in welding and pressure vessel technology. They exchange
knowledge, share perspectives, and execute R and D activities. As needed, the Council organizes
and manages cooperative programs.

MPC – A Council of the WRC, the Materials Properties Council is dedicated to providing industry
with the best technology and the best data that can be obtained on the properties of materials to
help meet today’s most advanced concepts in design and service, life assessment, fitness-for-
service, and reliability and safety.

PVRC – A Council of the WRC, the goal of the Pressure Vessel Research Council is to encourage,
promote, and conduct research in the field of pressure vessels and related pressure equipment
technologies, including evaluation of materials, design, fabrication, inspection, and testing.

For more information, see www.forengineers.org

WRC - The Welding Research Council brings together science and engineering specialists in
developing the solutions to problems in welding and pressure vessel technology. They exchange
knowledge, share perspectives, and execute R and D activities. As needed, the Council organizes
and manages cooperative programs.
WRC Bulletins contain final reports fromMPC
projects
– A sponsored by the
Council of the WRC,Welding Research
the Metal Council,
Properties important
Council is
papers presented before engineering societies and other reports of current interest.
dedicated to providing industry with the best technology and the best data that can be obtained on
the properties of materials to help meet today’s most advanced concepts in design and service, life
Noassessment,
warranty offitness-for-service,
any kind expressedand or implied,
reliability respecting
and safety. of data, analyses, graphs or any other
information provided in this publication is made by the Welding Research Council, and the use of any
such information is at the user’s sole risk.
PVRC – A Council of the WRC, the goal of the Pressure
Vessel Research Council is to encourage, promote and conduct research in the field of pressure
Allvessels
rights are reserved
and related and no partequipment
pressure of this publication may be
technologies, reproduced,
including downloaded,
evaluation disseminated,
of materials, design, or
otherwise transferred in any form or
fabrication, inspection and testing. by any means, including photocopying, without the express written
consent of WRC.
For more information, see www.forengineers.org
Copyright © 2014 The Welding Research Council.
All rights, including translations, are reserved by WRC.

ISSN 2372-1057
Library of Congress Catalog Number: 85-647116

Welding Research Council


20600 Chagrin Blvd.
Suite 1200
Shaker Heights, OH 44122
www.forengineers.org

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WRC Bulletin 538
Determination of Pressure Boundary
Joint Assembly Bolt Loads

W. Brown
Integrity Engineering Solutions

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WRC Bulletin 538
Determination of Pressure Boundary Joint Assembly Bolt Loads

DEDICATION

WRC Bulletin 538 is dedicated to the memory of Peter Davies. His mentorship and questioning mind
helped to lay the foundations upon which the work in WRC 538 was built. The world has lost a great
engineer and a wonderful, generous person, but he will not be forgotten.

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WRC Bulletin 538
Determination of Pressure Boundary Joint Assembly Bolt Loads

FOREWORD
Too often leakage and other failure of bolted joints in pressure vessels and piping have been ascribed to
improper or inadequate preloading of the bolting. ASME PCC-1-2010 Appendix O “Assembly Bolt Stress
Determination” was a major and long overdue step forward in assuring the integrity of bolted joints in
pressure equipment. It required several years of dedicated effort on the part of a group of concerned
individuals to see to it that the relevant aspects of sealing reliability were documented. To accomplish the
goal the Pressure Vessel Research Council of WRC organized an activity capably led by Warren Brown
to capture and evaluate the technology needed to support the procedures contained in PCC-1-2010. The
purpose of this Bulletin is to assure that the “paper trail”, including the state of the art finite element
analysis methods employed, leading to the ASME actions were documented and can be understood and
retrieved in the future as a basis for further progress.

Dr. Martin Prager


Executive Director
Welding Research Council

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WRC Bulletin 538
Determination of Pressure Boundary Joint Assembly Bolt Loads

TABLE OF CONTENTS
FOREWORD .....................................................................................................................................................VIII
TABLE OF CONTENTS .................................................................................................................................... IX
ABSTRACT ....................................................................................................................................................... 10
1 INTRODUCTION........................................................................................................................................ 11
2 HISTORY .................................................................................................................................................... 11
3 ASME PCC-1-2010 APPENDIX O METHOD EXPLANATION.............................................................. 12
4 USING ASME CODE EQUATIONS TO DETERMINE THE FLANGE LIMIT ....................................... 12
5 ELASTIC-PLASTIC FEA METHODS ...................................................................................................... 16
6 CONCLUSION ........................................................................................................................................... 18
7 REFERENCES ........................................................................................................................................... 23
8 APPENDICES ............................................................................................................................................ 24
8.1 APPENDIX A – ASME PCC-1-2010 APPENDIX O ERRATA .......................................................................24
8.2 APPENDIX B – GRAPHICAL REPRESENTATION OF F AND F2........................................................................25
8.3 APPENDIX C – EXAMPLE CALCULATIONS USING WRC 538 ......................................................................27

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WRC Bulletin 538
Determination of Pressure Boundary Joint Assembly Bolt Loads

ABSTRACT
This WRC Bulletin chronicles the development of the methods detailed in ASME PCC-1-2010 Appendix O
“Assembly Bolt Stress Determination”. It includes all the information necessary to enable engineers concerned
with sealing reliability to reproduce and build on the work that went into that part of PCC-1. The intent is not to
reproduce the method or to include all details of the development of the method. Instead it is to provide
references to the documents written during the development of the method and to provide additional details to
assist in the understanding and extension of the method in the future. This WRC Bulletin provides references to
the historical development articles, an explanation of the basis for the method, a step-by-step guide as to how to
apply the ASME code equations to determine flange limits, and a commentary on the Elastic-Plastic Finite
Element Analysis (FEA) methods presented therein.

The information presented will assist in developing general limits for acceptable bolt stresses that can be applied
to flanged joints without damaging them. This is the case for both standard piping flanges and custom pressure
vessel and heat exchanger flanges. By incorporating the equations outlined in this document, not only can the
correct assembly bolt load be determined, but the joint can be designed such that it is not possible to over-stress
the gasket or flanges. This approach vastly improves the practicality and reliability of the joint. By strictly
following these procedures it will not be possible to permanently damage the joint during assembly or operation.
The method presented also, enables determining which of a joint’s components are limiting. Absent that
knowledge it is not possible to correct the root causes of joint leakage. Finally, the document provides important
insight into gasket relaxation factors.

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WRC Bulletin 538
Determination of Pressure Boundary Joint Assembly Bolt Loads

1 INTRODUCTION
This WRC bulletin is intended to act as a reference to both chronicle the progression of and also to enable other
individuals to reproduce and/or build on the work that went into the development of the method presently detailed
in ASME PCC-1-2010 Appendix O “Assembly Bolt Stress Determination”. The intent is not to reproduce the
method or to include all details of the development of the method, but to provide reference to the appropriate
articles written during the development of the method and also to provide additional details to assist in the
reproduction of the method. This WRC bulletin contains an historic reference outlining the development articles,
an explanation of the basis for the method, a step-by-step guide as to how to apply code equations to determine
the flange limit, and commentary on the Elastic-Plastic Finite Element Analysis (FEA) methods used.

2 HISTORY
The development of the current methods outlined in ASME PCC-1-2010 Appendix O for the determination of the
assembly bolt load for pressure boundary joints commenced in early 2005 and was a direct result of field
experience at Chevron with excessive flange deformation (flange rotation) on piping joints, particularly when
assembled to high initial bolt loads. The method built on previous work by Brown on the selection of an
appropriate assembly bolt load that involved the consideration of appropriate gasket stress limits [1]. That work
considered only the gasket and bolt limits, and neglected the potential for the flange to be the limiting factor.
Although this approach worked in most cases, it was found that excessive flange deformation occurred in enough
cases to initiate the question as to what an appropriate limit for the joint as a whole (including the flange) should
be.

This led to the publication of the initial paper on the topic by Brown in 2006 [2], which presented background on
the need for inclusion of a flange limit in the calculation of assembly bolt load and outlined an initial method,
based on a limit on flange radial stress. However, the paper also indicated that the radial stress limit did not
appear to be valid for all cases and that a more comprehensive method would require expansion of the ASME
flange design equations [3] to include the tangential (hoop) stress at the shell to hub junction.

A follow-up paper by Brown in 2007 [4] presented the method for determining the flange stress at that location, as
well as a series of limits on all code flange stress locations that enabled the user to determine the assembly bolt
stress where Gross Plastic Deformation (GPD) of the flange would be expected. The developed equation and
limits were verified by comparison to Elastic-Plastic Finite Element Analysis (FEA) results for ASME B16.5,
SA105, weldneck flanges from NPS 2 to NPS 24 in pressure classes 150, 300, 600, 900, 1500, and 2500. The
results were also verified by comparison to Elastic-Plastic FEA on ASME B16.47, SA 105, Series A, weldneck
flanges from NPS 26 to NPS 48 in pressure classes 150, 300, 600 and 900. In both cases, standard spiral wound
gasket dimensions as per ASME B16.20 were used in the analysis. For piping flanges using similar gaskets and
having similar wall thickness to those analyzed in the paper, the Elastic-Plastic FEA results could be used directly
for the flange limit in the calculation of the joint assembly bolt stress. For non-standard flanges and flanges
having significant difference in gasket or pipe wall thickness, the code equation calculation contained in the paper
offered a method of determining the flange limit. However, in developing the limits, incorrect material properties
were used in the comparison between the FEA and the code equations, which led to the code equation limits
listed in the paper being overly conservative.

In a paper presented by Brown the following year [5], the method was further developed to include FEA of other
materials (SA182 F304), and the limits for the code calculation method were corrected to reflect comparison
against the correct FEA material results. These two updates to the method finalized the work with respect to
determining the flange limit for calculation of joint assembly bolt load for weldneck flanges. The information
contained in the papers written to that point was sufficient to allow determination of the approximate point of GPD
for a weldneck flange. The ASME codes, and others, use the same equations (weldneck flange) to assess a
range of configurations, from a true weldneck flange (having an integral butt welded, tapered hub) to slip-on
flanges (where the hub is fillet welded to the shell). This method may be used to approximate the behavior of slip-
on flanges and also integral flanges having only a radius at the hub junction. In the latter case, the approximation
will be acceptable. In the case of the slip-on flange, the assessment will be non-conservative in some cases. The
case of a loose ring flange can be addressed in the same way as the ASME code, with only the tangential stress
(ST) being calculated and by using the same limits as outlined in this document. A more accurate method for
determination of slip-on flange strength and confirmation of the method for loose flanges or flanges without hubs

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WRC Bulletin 538
Determination of Pressure Boundary Joint Assembly Bolt Loads

can be found in Brown [6]. The information and tables contained in the final paper were incorporated directly into
ASME PCC-1-2010 Appendix O. Further background and commentary on the method is outlined in Brown [7]. It
should be noted that the guidance provided in ASME PCC-1 Appendix O is intended to serve as an example only.
By using this WRC bulletin, it is possible to calculate actual specific cases or a general case for all piping joints at
a given site. The risk with using the values presented in Table O-8 of Appendix O is that they may not apply to
the actual case (for example the wall thickness of the pipe on the joint being considered may be much less than
the value used for the Appendix O calculation). Generally, the limits used to generate Table O-8 were higher than
might typically be used on piping joints, in order to provide an example that would not be taken as an absolute
limit (or rather, would not limit the actual case, if interpreted as an absolute limit).

An appendix has been added to this document (Appendix A), which outlines four errata to the current (2010)
version of Appendix O that will be corrected in the next revision.

3 ASME PCC-1-2010 APPENDIX O METHOD EXPLANATION


The basic premise of the method outlined in ASME PCC-1-2010 Appendix O is that in order to avoid joint
leakage, the joint must be assembled to a bolt stress level which provides adequate stress to seat the gasket,
adequate stress to provide sufficient residual stress on the gasket during operation and also be sufficiently low
such that no damage occurs to any of the joint components during assembly or operation. Using this concept, for
most joints, results in a band of acceptable assembly bolt stress values which may be expected to work as shown
in Fig. 1, taken from Brown [1].

Gasket Stress Lost due to Gasket Stress Lost due to Z% Sy Bolt


Thermal Loading Pressure & Ext. Load ing (Max. Permissible Load)
0% Sy Bolt
(No Load) X% Sy Bolt Operational Y% Sy Bolt 100% Sy Bo lt
(Min. Req’d Load) Load (Assembly Load) (Max. Possible Load)

Buffer against -ve +ve Buffer against


Gasket Stress Required leakage Gasket Stress lost joint damage
to Seal Gasket due to Creep/Relax.
Bolt Load
% Sy Bo lt remain ing +/- Assembly Technique
% Sy Bo lt lost during
during operation and Procedure Accuracy
operation

Figure 1 – Bolt Assembly Load Selection Criteria

In order to determine the lower limits of assembly bolt stress levels, several gasket properties must be known,
such as minimum seating stress, percentage gasket relaxation, and minimum stress during operation. None of
these values presently have an industry standard test, and therefore it is not possible to completely codify the
method at present. However, as tests are developed to establish the required information, this should be
possible. To establish the upper limits on assembly bolt stress (joint component damage), the maximum
acceptable gasket stress, and the maximum allowable assembly bolt stress that the flange will withstand must be
known. There is not presently an acceptable standard test method for establishing the maximum acceptable
gasket stress. Since the gasket values are not well defined, this bulletin will focus more on the establishment of
the maximum acceptable bolt stress, based on the flange limit.

4 USING ASME CODE EQUATIONS TO DETERMINE THE FLANGE LIMIT


The details outlined in this document assume that the user is familiar with the ASME flange design method
outlined in Appendix 2 of ASME [3]. The equations from that document will not be reproduced here, only the
additional required equations and the basic structure of the calculation and limits will be presented.

The method consists of calculating the flange stress levels at the following combinations of flange geometry

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WRC Bulletin 538
Determination of Pressure Boundary Joint Assembly Bolt Loads

location and associated stress orientation:

a) Longitudinal Hub Stress at Hub/Flange Junction ( S H f , modified existing ASME Equation [6])
b) Longitudinal Hub Stress at Hub/Shell Junction ( S H , existing ASME Equation [6])

c) Radial Stress at Hub/Flange Junction ( S R , existing ASME Equation [7])

d) Tangential Stress at Hub/Flange Junction ( ST , existing ASME Equation [8])

e) Tangential Stress at Hub/Shell Junction ( STO , New Equation)

The stress component locations are shown in Fig. 1. The reason for the use of the modification  SH f  is to
capture the stress at the hub/flange ring junction, versus S H , which is at the hub/shell junction for values of f
greater than one. The modification mentioned above to the hub longitudinal stress is to divide the calculated
value by the hub stress correction factor f . This factor is either equal to or greater than one. When equal to
one, the calculated stress is at the hub/flange junction. When greater than one, the calculated stress is at the
hub/shell junction. By dividing by f , the value of longitudinal hub stress at the hub/flange junction is always
found. The stress at the hub/shell junction will be over-predicted in cases where f equals one. It is not possible
to determine the stress at the hub/shell location using values of f less than one, because the equation for f
becomes inaccurate below one. However, it was found that the level of conservatism introduced by
overestimating the tangential stress at the hub/shell junction, which occurs in some cases, was minimal.

The only other modification to the standard Appendix 2 equations is that the moment M O used in the calculations
is taken as per the equation below:

M O   B Ab hG (1)

where B = the selected assembly bolt stress (MPa, psi)

Ab = the total bolt root area (mm2, in2) per Appendix 2, Notation

hG = gasket to bolt moment arm, per Appendix 2, Table 2-6

The method for calculating STO is per the equation below:

f2
STO  SH (2)
f

where f = the hub stress correction factor, per Appendix 2, Fig. 2-7.6 or the below equation. The below
equation for f is provided as an alternative to the Appendix 2 equation, in order that the expressions for f and
f 2 can have the same base equation. The two relationships (below and Appendix 2) agree across the full range
within 3%.

f 2 = a second hub stress correction factor, determined per the equation below:

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WRC Bulletin 538
Determination of Pressure Boundary Joint Assembly Bolt Loads

 2
 g1   h   g1   h 
2
 g  h  
 a +c   +e   +g   +i   +k  1   
  g0   h 0   g0   h 0   g 0  h 0  
fn   (3)
  g1   h   g1 
2
 h 
2
 g  h  
1+b   +d   +f   +h   +j  1   
  g0   h 0   g0   h0   g 0  h 0  

And

f  max 1.0, f1 

h
f 2  max  0.25, f 2  for  0.35
h0
h
f 2  max  0.25, f3  for  0.35
h0

where the definition of g1 , g 0 , h and h0 are as per ASME Appendix 2 and the constants a through k , for each
of the f variables, are defined per the table below:

Graphical representations of f and f 2 are shown in Appendix B of this document. These plots are similar to the
existing plots of f in ASME VIII, Div. 1, Appendix 2.

f f2 f3
a -0.71375912 -0.01447638 -0.06456312

b -0.12846279 -0.27814745 -0.08232239

c 1.08037907 0.01035395 0.13691677

d 0.99766848 1.37984158 -0.77879888

e 1.21823466 -0.34346764 0.14909019

f 0.01024612 0.02536192 0.00660062

g 0.4262313 -0.00145080 0.06162520

h 1.42049760 2.25543162 0.74639834

i -0.70278181 -0.60889597 -0.07959500

j -0.02483937 -0.15735462 0.09851673

k -1.59460436 1.22516062 -0.11214360

By using the equations below and those contained in ASME Appendix 2, the stress levels at the following
locations can be compared with the limits listed following them. Note that the limits are based on material yield at
assembly (ambient) temperature S  .
ya In addition, it should be noted that these limits are selected with the
expectation that some localized yielding of the flange is acceptable and does occur in most flange cases when
assembled to sufficient bolt stress to ensure joint integrity. The limits are applied using the elastic equations and,

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WRC Bulletin 538
Determination of Pressure Boundary Joint Assembly Bolt Loads

therefore, indicate stress levels that are well above yield. However, they have been verified against Elastic-
Plastic FEA to be below the point of GPD for the flange, which is the true limit of flange strength (as opposed to
localized yielding, which has no effect on flange strength).

a) Longitudinal Hub Stress: SH  2.0S ya


b) Tangential Stress at Hub/Flange Junction: ST  1.5S ya
c) Tangential Stress at Hub/Shell Junction: STO  1.0S ya
d) Combined Stress at Hub/Flange Junction:  SH f  ST   3.0S ya
e) Combined Stress at Hub/Flange Junction:  SR  ST   3.0S ya
f) Combined Stress at Hub/Shell Junction:  SH  STO   3.0S ya
g) Radial Stress at Hub/Flange Junction: SR  2.0S ya

 
In order to determine the flange limit on assembly bolt stress S f max , the assembly bolt stress is increased until
one of the above limits is exceeded. The above limits were determined by comparison to Elastic-Plastic FEA
results and give, in most cases, a result that is within 10% of the value calculated using Elastic-Plastic FEA. This
is considered sufficiently accurate for the intended purpose. When considering these limits by comparison to
pressure vessel and piping design practices it is necessary to remember that the flange stresses are
predominantly controlled by the bolt load. The bolt load is set at assembly and creates secondary stresses in the
joint, since once assembled the joint deformation is displacement controlled. Therefore, the presence of localized
portions of the flange at yield should not be a concern. Under repeated assembly and operational cycles the
flange will shake-down to a final stress state where no further yielding occurs. The above stress limits are chosen
with this in mind and will seem excessive by comparison to present flange design stress limits, due to the different
intent of the flange design method (to adequately size the flange) versus this method (to determine the strength of
the flange). A more practical measure to use for flange design would be the method contained in this document,
with the flange stresses calculated at bolt yield. This would ensure that the flange was never the limiting strength
component of the joint.

The preceding limits are for the flange assembly case. Typically this is the controlling case, since gasket
relaxation will result in a much lower residual bolt stress during subsequent joint operation. However, in cases
where the flange yield strength will be reduced by a greater amount than the expected joint relaxation, it is
necessary to also consider the flange operating case. In order to do that, (in ASME PCC-1-2010) in all cases
analyzed during the development of this method, including piping, pressure vessel, and heat exchanger flanges,
the Radial Stress (SR) was never found to control on its own. It is included here as a limit in order to reflect the
stress checks currently performed in ASME VIII, Div. 1, Appendix 2.

In some cases (e.g., high temperature stainless steel flanges) the yield strength of the flange may reduce
significantly during operation. In those cases, the flange limit should be reduced by the ratio of the yield
S f max S yo S ya  . A useful ratio for determining if this adjustment must be performed is to compare the reduction
in yield to the amount of relaxation occurring, and if the reduction ratio exceeds the relaxation, the effect should
be included. This check is expressed as follows: the reduction factor should be included if S yo S ya   1.25 g .
The additional reduction in gasket relaxation (1.25 term) is included to capture possible variances in actual
relaxation versus test or assumed values.

The change made between this version and ASME PCC-1-2010 is the use of a “<” rather than a “>” sign, and the
change to the remaining relaxation factor (rather than the relaxation loss factor). Practically, the above
consideration can be implemented by the following modification to the preceding limits:

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WRC Bulletin 538
Determination of Pressure Boundary Joint Assembly Bolt Loads

S y = the lesser of S ya or S yo

and S yo = the greater of S yo 1.25 g  or S yo

Where g is the gasket relaxation factor from PCC-1 Appendix O (typically taken as 0.7 unless gasket test data
is available), S ya is the assembly (ambient) temperature yield of the flange material and S yo is the operating
temperature yield of the flange material.

a) Longitudinal Hub Stress: SH  2.0S y


b) Tangential Stress at Hub/Flange Junction: ST  1.5S y
c) Tangential Stress at Hub/Shell Junction: STO  1.0S y
d) Combined Stress at Hub/Flange Junction:  SH f  ST   3.0S y
e) Combined Stress at Hub/Flange Junction:  SR  ST   3.0S y
f) Combined Stress at Hub/Shell Junction:  SH  STO   3.0S y
g) Radial Stress at Hub/Flange Junction : S R  2.0S y

5 ELASTIC-PLASTIC FEA METHODS


The FEA that was performed to establish GPD limits for different flange configurations was based on
axisymmetric approximation of the flange geometry. The reduction in accuracy by assuming axisymmetric
behavior was more than offset by the reduction in assessment time, which was significant given the large number
of FEA assessments required. It should be noted at this point that a sensitivity study into such factors as the
element order, contact assumptions, and mesh density was performed subsequent to the finalization of the
results. It was found that, depending on the assumptions made, the answer for the point of GPD could be made
to vary by 2 to 3% between different identical geometry models. However, this variation, while significant from an
academic sense, was well within the accuracy of other factors that commonly occur in bolted joint practice.

Three such factors are:

a) The effect of assembly method inaccuracy on achieved bolt load. This factor is well documented and
commonly the achieved accuracy for controlled joint assembly is within the ±10% to ±30% range.
b) The as-delivered material yield strength versus the minimum specified strength is often around 70 MPa
(10ksi) higher. For common flange materials, this means that the actual GPD is likely to be around 30%
higher than the GPD calculated using the minimum specified yield strength.
c) For standard piping flanges, the exact shape of the hub is not well defined in the B16.5 and B16.47
standards. The hub height, h, can be varied from the full height of the flange to a minimum 45° angle hub.
The difference in strength between a full height hub and a 45° hub can be significant. For an NPS 20, cl.150
flange, Elastic-Plastic FEA demonstrated that the 45° hub had a maximum allowable assembly bolt load of
less than 30% of the full height hub geometry flange. Most suppliers tend to deliver flanges with hubs closer
to the full height condition. For this reason, it was assumed in the analysis conducted that the hub height
corresponded to the full possible height. It should be noted that this may not be conservative in all cases,
depending on the flange supplier.

As can be seen from the above factors, it would be very easy to over think this problem and end up with so many
variations of flange limits, for every different possible combination, that the end result would not be practical or
usable. The intent of the FEA work was, therefore, to provide a basis upon which an approximate code equation
method could be verified such that, if desired, other variables could be incorporated into the assessment on an
as-needs basis using the code equation method. The goal was to achieve agreement between the methods of

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WRC Bulletin 538
Determination of Pressure Boundary Joint Assembly Bolt Loads

around ±10% in order to be satisfied that both methods resulted in an answer that would be sufficiently accurate
for the purposes of selecting an assembly bolt load.

The following FEA modeling simplifications/assumptions were made in order to facilitate the assessment and/or to
achieve as accurate as possible a result:

1) The flange geometry was taken from the appropriate ASME standard, with the assumption that the hub
height was a full height hub. One half of the flange pair was modeled, with symmetry being assumed
through the central plane of the gasket.
2) The gasket sealing element geometry was taken as a spiral wound gasket in accordance with ASME
B16.20. The inner and outer rings were not modeled, so any possible contact between the flange and
those components was neglected.
3) The FEA models were constructed using first-order axisymmetric elements for the flange, first-order
plane stress elements for the bolts/nuts, and Abaqus gasket elements with normal direction behavior
only (GKAX4N) (See Fig. 3).
4) The gasket element elastic behavior was taken from flat-platen room temperature testing of a spiral
wound gasket (see Fig. 4).
5) The gasket element surfaces were tied to the flange raised face. Since the gasket elements used do
not allow tension or shear to be generated this has no effect in terms of overly restraining the joint, as
would be the case with other methods of modeling the gasket.
6) The nut width was taken as the across flats dimension of the appropriate size standard heavy hex nut.
7) In general, the contact between the flange and the nut was modeled as rough friction with no lateral
movement and the ability to separate after contact. This means that the reaction point between the nut
and the flange will move inward as the flange is loaded and rotates. In a very few cases, however, it
was necessary to tie the nut to the flange in order to achieve convergence. Those cases will slightly
under-estimate the point of GPD due to the additional restraint in movement.
8) The width of the bolt, as modeled with Plane Stress elements, was taken as ¾ of the actual bolt
diameter in order that the bending moment of inertia for the plane stress representation was identical to
the actual multiple cylindrical bolt cross-section. This bending is due to flange rotation and is significant
in that it controls the amount of movement of the nut reaction point inward as the flange rotates.
9) The depth of the plane stress elements was calculated in order that the overall total area of the
elements matched the total tensile area of the flange bolts. Note that root area was not used (as is
required in code calculations) as the tensile area is considered to be more appropriate in terms of actual
joint elastic interaction behavior. However, particularly in the larger size flanges, the two areas could be
interchanged without significant effect on the end result.
10) The bolt load was applied using the “*Pretension” command in Abaqus. This command reduces the
length of the elements across a plane on the bolt until the desired preload is established. The load was
applied in 35 MPa (5ksi) increments until GPD was found.
11) The point of GPD was determined from the FEA results as the FEA step where the slope of the change
in flange rotation versus applied bolt load was greater than two times the initial elastic portion of the
slope (See Fig. 5).
12) The bolt-hole region of the flange was modeled using anisotropic elastic material properties. Since the
stress levels in that region did not typically approach yield, the use of elastic properties should not have
affected the obtained GPD value. The material properties (subscripts indicate direction, as per the code
equations) used were:
 Tangential Young’s Modulus = Very Small Value (Negligible)
 Radial and Longitudinal Young’s Modulus = E f 1   0.25 nb dbh C  
 Radial/Longitudinal Shear Modulus = Radial and Longitudinal Young’s Modulus / 2.6
 Other Shear Moduli = Very Small Value (Negligible)
 where E f = Young’s Modulus, nb = number of bolts, d bh = diameter of bolt hole, C = bolt pitch
circle diameter
 This results in the following values for each of the materials used in this study:

17
WRC Bulletin 538
Determination of Pressure Boundary Joint Assembly Bolt Loads

SA-105 SA-182 F304


Material Young’s Modulus 202,500 MPa 193,500 MPa
Young’s Modulus (Tangential) ET 1 MPa 1 MPa
ER and EH 151,875 MPa 145,125 MPa
Shear Modulus GRH 58,413 MPa 55,817 MPa
GRT and GTH 0.5 MPa 0.5 MPa

13) The Elastic-Plastic stress-strain behavior was taken from ASME II-D material properties for SA-105 and
SA-182 F304 materials using the MPC method outlined in ASME Section VIII Div. 2 (see Fig. 6).

Further examples of FEA plots are shown in Fig. 7 to Fig. 9. The plots are chosen to highlight different categories
of stress component limits and are provided for information only, since the actual GPD point was determined
purely from flange rotation results. The first plot is of a standard NPS 20, cl.150 flange, which has GPD occurring
at the hub to shell junction  STO  . The second plot is of a 24 inch heat exchanger joint, which has two different

flanges. One of them has GPD occurring at the hub to shell junction  STO  and the other at the hub in the axial
direction  SH  . The final example is a B16.47 Series A, NPS 46, cl. 300 flange, which shows failure due to the

combination of  SH  and  ST  . Examples of the calculations outlined in this WRC bulletin for some standard
flanges are shown in Appendix C, for information.

6 CONCLUSION
The information presented in this WRC bulletin will assist in developing general limits to the acceptable bolt stress
that can be applied to flanged joints without damaging them. This is the case for both standard piping flanges and
custom pressure vessel and heat exchanger flanges. By incorporating the equations outlined in this document,
not only can the correct assembly bolt load be determined, but in fact at the design stage, the joint can be
designed such that it is not possible to over-stress the gasket or flanges. This vastly improves the practicality of
the joint, in that it will therefore not be possible to overstress and permanently damage the joint during assembly
or operation. In addition, the method outlined is essential for determining the root cause of joint leakage, since
without knowledge as to which of the joint components, if any, are limiting, it is not possible to categorically
identify the root cause of joint leakage.

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WRC Bulletin 538
Determination of Pressure Boundary Joint Assembly Bolt Loads

Figure 2 – Flange Stress Component Locations

First-order
Axisymmetric

First-order
Radial Stress Axial Stress Hoop Stress Axisymmetric
Anisotropic
Properties

Gasket
Elements

Plane
Stress
Elements

Figure 3 – FEA Model Plot (NPS 12, cl.300 flange)

19
WRC Bulletin 538
Determination of Pressure Boundary Joint Assembly Bolt Loads

LOADING
mm MPa
0.000 0.0
0.024 9.6
0.102 21.8
Gasket Stress (MPa)

0.479 34.1
0.774 46.8
1.000 64.6
1.250 99.9
UNLOADING 1
0.708 0.0
0.749 10.0
0.762 22.5
0.770 35.3
0.774 46.8
UNLOADING 2
1.202 0.0
1.233 19.8
1.239 39.9
1.244 59.8
1.247 80.2
1.250 99.9

Figure 4 – Gasket Mechanical Behavior

0
Flange Rotation (degrees)

-0.5

-1

-1.5

-2
Rotation (deg)
-2.5 Normalised on Load

-3
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 1.2
Bolt Stress / Yield

Figure 5 – Example Flange Rotation vs. Bolt Load Plot (NPS 16, cl.300)

20
WRC Bulletin 538
Determination of Pressure Boundary Joint Assembly Bolt Loads

500

450

400

350

Stress (MPa) 300

250
200 SA182 F304
SA105
150

100
50

0
0.00E+00 2.00E-02 4.00E-02 6.00E-02 8.00E-02 1.00E-01
Strain

Figure 6 – Flange Material Elastic-Plastic Properties

Strength
Limited by ST0

Sh ST SR
Sh ST SR

Figure 7 – 20in., cl.150, SA182-F304 FEA Results (MPa)

21
WRC Bulletin 538
Determination of Pressure Boundary Joint Assembly Bolt Loads

ST Sh

ST Sh

Strength Limited Strength


by ST0 Limited By SH Sh
ST
Strength Limited Strength Sh
ST Limited By SH
by ST0

Figure 8 – 24in. Heat Exchanger FEA GPD Results (psi)

von Mises Sh
ST
Sh
Strength ST
Limited By
(SH + ST)

Figure 9 – 46in., Cll.300, SA182-F304 FEA Results (MPa)

22
WRC Bulletin 538
Determination of Pressure Boundary Joint Assembly Bolt Loads

7 REFERENCES
1. Brown, W., 2004, “Efficient Assembly of Pressure Vessel Bolted Joints” Proceedings of the ASME PVP
2004, ASME, San Diego, USA
2. Brown, W., Reeves, D., 2006, “Considerations for Selecting the Optimum Bolt Assembly Stress For Piping
Flanges”, Proceedings of the ASME PVP 2006, ASME, Vancouver, Canada, PVP2006-ICPVT11-93094
3. ASME. 2007, ASME Section VIII, Division 1, Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code, American Society of
Mechanical Engineers, NY, USA
4. Brown, W., Reeves, D.., 2007, “An Update on Selecting the Optimum Bolt Assembly Stress For Piping
Flanges”, Proceedings of the ASME PVP 2007, ASME, San Antonio, Texas, PVP2007-26649
5. Brown, W., 2008, “Selecting the Optimum Bolt Assembly Stress: Influence of Flange Material on Flange
Load Limit”, ASME PVP Conference, Chicago, IL, PVP2008-61709
6. Brown, W., 2008, “Selecting the Optimum Bolt Assembly Stress: Influence of Flange Type on Flange Load
Limit”, ASME PVP Conference, Chicago, IL, PVP2008-61708
7. Brown, W., 2010, “Background on the New ASME PCC-1-2010 Appendices D & O Guidelines for Allowable
Gasket Contact Surface Flatness and Defect Depth &Assembly Bolt Load Selection”, ASME PVP
Conference, Bellevue, WA, PVP2010-25766
8. ASME PCC-1-2010 “Guidelines for Assembly of Pressure Boundary Bolted Joints”, ASME, NY, 2010

23
WRC Bulletin 538
Determination of Pressure Boundary Joint Assembly Bolt Loads

8 APPENDICES

8.1 Appendix A – ASME PCC-1-2010 Appendix O Errata

Errata #1 – Usage of the flange rotation limit (gmax) is not consistent throughout the appendix. The definition
implies that the limit is associated with the sum of the mating flange rotations, but the limits listed in O-4.1(a) are
for single flanges and the flange rotation levels listed in the Tables (O-3, O-5, and O-7) are for single flanges. The
limit definition and references throughout the Appendix should be changed to ensure it is clear that the limit
applies to single flange rotation. Therefore, for a flange pair, the gasket will see the combined rotation of both
flanges, but each flange will be checked independently against the flange rotation limit.

Errata #2 – The incorrect WRC bulletin (WRC 528) was referenced in Appendix O, it should be this bulletin (WRC
538).

Errata #3 – The incorrect method was used to determine if the reduction in flange material yield should be
accounted for in an assessment. The correct method is as per outlined in this WRC bulletin.

Errata #4 – The incorrect limits were used to create Tables O-4M and O-4. The corrected tables, using the flange
stress limits defined in this document, are as follows:
Table O-4M Replacement Table O-4 Replacement
150 300 600 900 1500 2500 150 300 600 900 1500 2500
2 450 310 515 332 413 447 2 65 45 75 48 60 65
2.5 576 284 388 377 441 496 2.5 83 41 56 55 64 72
3 724 394 545 517 432 531 3 105 57 79 75 63 77
4 445 561 633 417 492 454 4 65 81 92 61 71 66
5 402 724 663 468 528 501 5 58 105 96 68 77 73
6 541 593 630 543 605 535 6 78 86 91 79 88 78
8 724 614 657 463 576 557 8 105 89 95 67 83 81
10 503 639 566 444 627 543 10 73 93 82 64 91 79
12 712 607 563 494 554 594 12 103 88 82 72 80 86
14 583 454 513 526 485 14 84 66 74 76 70
16 563 398 508 532 487 16 82 58 74 77 71
18 614 472 594 534 521 18 89 69 86 77 76
20 568 451 482 545 501 20 82 65 70 79 73
24 479 365 450 546 481 24 69 53 65 79 70
26 218 242 359 448 26 32 35 52 65
28 193 264 354 399 28 28 38 51 58
30 228 290 447 465 30 33 42 65 67
32 173 272 396 460 32 25 40 58 67
34 160 296 463 418 34 23 43 67 61
36 207 261 404 436 36 30 38 59 63
38 211 557 623 551 38 31 81 90 80
40 199 536 634 532 40 29 78 92 77
42 218 581 626 585 42 32 84 91 85
44 221 676 638 570 44 32 98 93 83
46 238 724 687 563 46 35 105 100 82
48 222 524 605 625 48 32 76 88 91

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WRC Bulletin 538
Determination of Pressure Boundary Joint Assembly Bolt Loads

8.2 Appendix B – Graphical Representation of f and f2

h/(sqrt(B.g 0)

0.05
0.1
0.2

10 0.3
f (longitudinal stress factor)

0.35
0.4
0.5
0.6
0.7
0.8
0.9
1
1.1
1.2
1.3
1.4
1.5
0.5
h/(B*g0)
0.5
h/(B*g0)
1
1 2 3 4 5
g1/g0

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WRC Bulletin 538
Determination of Pressure Boundary Joint Assembly Bolt Loads

2.5
h/(sqrt(B.g 0)
0.05
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.35
0.4
0.5
f2 (hoop factor)

0.6
0.7
0.8
0.9
1
1.1
1.2
1.3
1.4
1.5
0.5
h/(B*g0)
0.5
h/(B*g0)
0.25
1 2 3 4 5
g1/g0

26
WRC Bulletin 538
Determination of Pressure Boundary Joint Assembly Bolt Loads

8.3 Appendix C – Example Calculations Using WRC 538

The below examples are presented for comparison purposes, dimensions are in mm and results in MPa. They
are calculated using a flange yield stress of 345 MPa.

Flange Size NPS 44 16 24 12


Flange Class Class 150 300 300 900
Flange Spec ASME B16.47A B16.5 B16.5 B16.5
Pipe Outside Diameter (mm) Pipe OD 1117.6 406.4 609.6 323.9
Pipe Wall Thickness (mm) g0 9.5 7.9 14.3 17.5
Flange Bore (mm) B 1098.5 390.6 581.1 288.9
Flange Outside Diameter (mm) A 1405.0 647.7 914.4 609.6
Hub Outside Diameter (mm) X 1145.0 483.0 701.0 419.0
Hub Thickness at Flange Ring (mm) g1 23.2 46.2 60.0 65.0
Flange Thickness (mm) t 100.4 55.6 68.3 79.2
Hub Height (mm) h 76.0 88.8 98.1 120.8
Bolt Circle Diameter (mm) C 1314.0 571.5 812.8 533.4
Bolt Diameter (mm) b 38.1 31.8 38.1 34.9
Bolt Area (mm²) Ab 906.5 599.3 906.5 745.2
Number of Bolts nb 40 20 24 20
Gasket Inner Diameter (mm) Gask ID 1124.0 422.4 628.7 323.9
Gasket Outer Diameter (mm) Gask OD 1165.2 463.6 685.8 368.3
Flange Young's Modulus (MPa) E 202500 202500 202500 202500
Poisson’s Ratio Poisson’s 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3
Hub Thickness Ratio g1/g0 2.4 5.8 4.2 3.7
Hub Length Ratio h/ho 0.7 1.6 1.1 1.7
Axial Stress Hub Factor f 1.00 1.00 1.42 1.00
Hoop Stress Hub Factor f2 0.59 0.79 0.93 0.27
Basic Gasket Width (mm) b0 10.3 10.3 14.3 11.1
Effective Gasket Width (mm) b 8.1 8.1 9.5 8.4
Gasket Reaction Diameter (mm) G 1149.0 447.4 666.8 351.5
Gasket Moment Arm (mm) hG 82.5 62.0 73.0 90.9
Bolt Stress (MPa) Sb 221 399 365 494
Bolt Load (N) W 8025408 4785057 7950404 7368113
Axial Stress (MPa) SH 418 312 374 393
Radial Stress (MPa) SR 45 370 335 490
Tangential Stress at hub/flange (MPa) ST 295 194 165 246
Tangential Stress at hub/shell (MPa) STO 245 245 245 107
Flange Rotation @ W f 0.9 0.4 0.4 0.2

27
INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK

28
WRC PVRC MPC
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