Gasket leaks can cause problematic fugitive emissions. These escaping gasses or vapours then go on to contribute to a worldwide challenge. They worsen the state of already contentious local air pollution problems. Rising higher, the emissions participate in a globally consequential, environmentally-damaging state of affairs. The planet Earth suffers as its blanketing atmosphere fills with poison. Who knew a faulty gasket could cause such a profoundly disturbing series of world-impacting maladies?

Reducing Fugitive Emissions

Okay, the above passage of text might sound overly dramatic, but there’s more than a seed of truth there. The only additional nugget of perspective-giving context that needs to be added is this: no single industrial complex is responsible for the environmental crisis. At the same time, every emissions-producing facility has to accept some responsibility. To demonstrate acceptance of this truism, eco-conscious plant managers call upon the services of reputable gasket suppliers. By taking this virtuous path, by sticking with a seal vendor who prioritizes emissions neutralizing solutions above all other concerns, site managers side with the environment.

Reputable Gasket Suppliers

Of course, there’s more to this matter than a virtuous attitude. A principled frame of mind helps, but these are business runnings, and they’re looking for profits. Without sounding too pessimistic, it takes more than a non-specific threat to waylay a corporate-sized industrial complex. The idea that acid rains might fall a thousand miles away won’t necessarily keep such an emission-leaking facility in check. That’s why there are laws for such things. Environmental agencies bring “sniffer” tools to company sites, and if those sites are found to be producing fugitive emissions, then that compliance-breaking act is punished. Extracted financially, the only way to prevent a future gasket-weakening violation is to call a reputable gasket supplier.

Weighing The Costs

There’s more to this challenge than first meets the eye. Greenhouse gasses are a clear threat whether the law-violating company believes in them or not. What of the local costs? Escaping gasses can slowly poison local communities. They can accumulate in lower grounds as heavier than air discharges, which then combust. Lastly, there’s the more practical matter, the fact that fugitive emissions represent significant company losses. Like money sifting its way through a substandard seal, the invisible vapours steal a portion of a facilities’ production revenue.

It’s a three-way challenge. Localized environmental damage. Tiny quantities of escaping gas can accumulate. Then there’s the air pollution challenge, which can have far-reaching consequences. Company losses are the third factor of concern. By rule of law, such fugitive emissions are classed as serious violations. A company maintenance program will reduce such transgressions, but only a reputable gasket supplier can properly eliminate the hazard.

In an ideal world, an engineer would select an overly thickened gasket. Then the flange bolts would tighten until even the slightest leak pathway was filled by the incredibly compressed material. That’s not a real-world option, not when there are physical constraints to evaluate. For starters, all of that flange pressure, as applied by the ring of bolts, would create great stress along the flange faces.

A Deterministic View Of Flange Stressors

Again, thicker gaskets do a better job of filling flange face irregularities, so shouldn’t this thicker-than-average seal be used as the preferred solution to any fluid sealing issue? Not so fast, new problems crop up as the ring of compressive material thickens. Unless the gasket material is exactly as wide as the flange face, then the diameter difference will produce loading stress. The faces will actually deform and warp as the flange bolts are tightened. Furthermore, that stress won’t stay at the faces, it’ll propagate to a weak spot, perhaps a weld seam, where a hairline fracture could pop into existence.

Follow The Seal-Attenuating Determinants

It’s just common sense, the fact that a thicker gasket equals more gasketing material. Now the seal begins to suffer in other ways. Sure, the additional material provides more material plasticity, which means the tiniest leak-propagating irregularity is blocked. That feature comes at a cost, though. Thicker gaskets suffer from creep relaxation after their bolts are fully tightened. As a result of this issue, seal compressibility plummets. Viewed side-on, another dangerous problem makes itself apparent. There’s more material exposed to the open air, so a blow-out risk becomes likelier. Just to prove things aren’t all bad, though, thicker gaskets do work better in systems that have damaged flange faces.

Assessing The System-Prevailing Benefit

That’s right, thinner gaskets are not the preferred fixture when flange faces are uneven or poorly finished. Perhaps those surfaces are aging badly, or maybe they’re not perfectly aligned. Whatever the reason is, a thicker gasket acts as a force compensating device. If such unevenly applied forces or irregularity-plagued surfaces were handled by a 1-mm thick gasket, it wouldn’t counteract such flanging deficits. Switching to a 3-mm thick substitute, the thicker gasket fills the surface discontinuities while it also compensates for the unequally applied bolt loading forces. However, there’s still the blow-out factor and creep relaxation issue to consider.

A repaired gasket, fully realigned and milled flat, is the best answer here, but that solution isn’t always possible, not under real-world conditions. When such conditions transpire, a thicker gasket is the workable option, but it should use a reinforced material backbone, one that’ll resist creep, blowout hazards, and other such performance-altering determinants.