Satish Lele
lelepiping@gmail.com

Flange Gaskets

A gasket is a mechanical seal which fills the space between two or more mating surfaces, generally to prevent leakage from or into the joined objects while under compression. Gaskets allow mating surfaces on machine parts where they can fill irregularities. Gaskets are commonly produced by cutting from sheet materials, such as gasket paper, rubber, silicone, metal, cork, felt, neoprene, nitrile rubber, fiberglass, Teflon or a plastic polymer.
Gaskets for specific applications, such as high pressure steam systems, may contain asbestos. However, due to health hazards associated with asbestos exposure, non-asbestos gasket materials are used when practical. It is usually desirable that the gasket be made from a material that is to some degree yielding such that it is able to deform and tightly fills the space it is designed for, including any slight irregularities. A few gaskets require an application of sealant directly to the gasket surface to function properly. Some piping gaskets are made entirely of metal and rely on a seating surface to accomplish the seal.

Flange Gasket: A flange gasket is a type of gasket made to fit between two sections of pipe that are flared to provide higher surface area. Flange gaskets come in a variety of sizes and are categorized by their inside diameter and their outside diameter. There are many standards in gasket for flanges of pipes. The gaskets for flanges can be divided in major different categories:
Sheet Gaskets: Sheet gaskets are simple, they are cut to size either with bolt holes or without holes for standard sizes with various thickness and material suitable to media and temperature, pressure of pipeline. It is a sheet of material punched out of sheet. This leads to a very crude, fast and cheap gasket. In past the material was compressed asbestos, but in modern times a fibrous material such as graphite is used. These gaskets can fill many chemical requirements based on the inertness of the material used and fit many budgetary restraints. Common practice prevents these gaskets from being used in many industrial processes based on temperature and pressure concerns.
Ring Gaskets: Ring type joint gaskets are mostly used in offshore oil and gas pipelines and are designed to work under extremely high pressure. They are solid rings of metal in different cross sections like oval, round, octagonal etc. Sometimes they come with hole in center for pressure equalization.
Solid Material Gaskets: The idea behind solid material is to use metals which cannot be punched out of sheets but are still cheap to produce. These gaskets generally have a much higher level of quality control than sheet gaskets and generally can withstand much higher temperatures and pressures. The key downside is that a solid metal must be greatly compressed in order to become flush with the flange head and prevent leakage. The material choice is more difficult, because metals are primarily used, process contamination and oxidation are risks. An additional downside is that the metal used must be softer than the flange, in order to ensure that the flange does not warp and thereby prevent sealing with future gaskets. Even so, these gaskets have found a niche in industry.
Spiral Wound Gaskets: Spiral wound gaskets are also used in high pressure pipelines and are made with stainless steel outer and inner rings and a center filled with spirally wound stainless steel tape wound together with graphite and PTFE, formed in V shape. Internal pressure acts upon the faces of the V, forcing the gasket to seal against the flange faces. Spiral-wound gaskets comprise a mix of metallic and filler material. Generally, the gasket has a metal (normally carbon rich or stainless steel) wound outwards in a circular spiral (other shapes are possible) with the filler material (generally a flexible graphite) wound in the same manner but starting from the opposing side. This results in alternating layers of filler and metal. The filler material in these gaskets acts as the sealing element, with the metal providing structural support. These gaskets have proven to be reliable in most applications, and allow lower clamping forces than solid gaskets, albeit with a higher cost.
Constant Seating Stress Gaskets: The constant seating stress gasket consists of two components, a solid carrier ring of a suitable material, such as stainless steel, and two sealing elements of some compressible material installed within two opposing channels, one channel on either side of the carrier ring. The sealing elements are typically made from a material (expanded graphite, expanded PTFE) suitable to the process fluid and application. Constant seating stress gaskets derive their name from the fact that the carrier ring profile takes flange rotation (deflection under bolt preload) into consideration. With all other conventional gaskets, as the flange fasteners are tightened, the flange deflects radially under load, resulting in the greatest gasket compression, and highest gasket stress, at the outer gasket edge.
Since the carrier ring used in constant seating stress gaskets take this deflection into account when creating the carrier ring for a given flange size, pressure class, and material, the carrier ring profile can be adjusted to enable the gasket seating stress to be radially uniform across the entire sealing area. Further, because the sealing elements are fully confined by the flange faces in opposing channels on the carrier ring, any in-service compressive forces acting on the gasket are transmitted through the carrier ring and avoid any further compression of the sealing elements, thus maintaining a 'constant' gasket seating stress while in-service. Thus, the gasket is immune to common gasket failure modes that include creep relaxation, high system vibration, or system thermal cycles. The fundamental concept underlying the improved sealability for constant seating stress gaskets are that

  • If the flange sealing surfaces are capable of attaining a seal.

  • The sealing elements are compatible with the process fluid and application.

  • The sufficient gasket seating stress is achieved on installation necessary to affect a seal, then the possibility of the gasket leaking in-service is greatly reduced or eliminated altogether.

Double Jacketed Gaskets: Double-jacketed gaskets are another combination of filler material and metallic materials. In this application, a tube with ends that resemble a "C" is made of the metal with an additional piece made to fit inside of the "C" making the tube thickest at the meeting points. The filler is pumped between the shell and piece. When in use the compressed gasket has a larger amount of metal at the two tips where contact is made (due to the shell/piece interaction) and these two places bear the burden of sealing the process. Since all that is needed is a shell and piece, these gaskets can be made from almost any material that can be made into a sheet and a filler can then be inserted. This is an effective option for most applications.

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