Gasket Materials Used for High Pressure Vessels, Joints and Pipes

11 October 2017

How does the term ‘High-Pressure Vessel’ impact gasket design? For openers, this is an engineering scenario that implies a substantial stress factor. The pressure, if it were to be released, would be dangerously high, perhaps even explosively destructive. If that pressurized fluid is to be reliably contained at each and every vessel seam, capable gasket materials must be employed then correctly installed. What exactly are the best materials for this job?

Choose Metallic Strength

Strong elastomers equipped with a fluoropolymer backbone compress and then hold their shape when the upper end of the medium pressure scale is realized. Equally resilient carbon seals and mineral fibre inserts provide adequate jointing properties when they’re moderately stressed, plus they retain their strength when the fluid temperature climbs high. For true high-pressure resistance, however, it’s metal that gets the recruitment call. Pure metal rings, alloy gaskets with graphite inserts, and even specially profiled ceramic-packed rings fill this gasketing family with metallurgically established durability. Let’s check out those solid metal gasket materials.

A Stronger Gasket: Alloys and Pure Metals

Picture metal seals as the ultimate high-pressure sealing solution. Sure, at least initially, the alloys seem too rigid and too unyielding, but all metals include a certain degree of elasticity. That slight amount of malleability acts just like the compression feature inside an elastomeric seal, except the feature is far more capable as a stress mitigation mechanism. Obviously, softer alloys have a strong presence here, with bronze and copper providing a fluid-resistant base, especially when the conveyed fluids have a corrosive ingredient. Higher up on the pressure spectrum, its aluminium and stainless steel that provide more strength, yet these alloys still have a slight amount of elasticity locked inside their structural form so that they perform superbly in their gasketing duties. Again, these strong yet slightly material-soft alloys are designed to handle intense fluid pressures and just as severe temperatures.

What could be better than solid steel as a gasket material when the fluid pressure is transferring massive quantities of stress? In place of that dense ring of metal, there are specially profiled metal gaskets, products that handle blow-out stress and transient pressure spikes, among other things. They use corrugated layers and grooves to manipulate the compressible characteristics of the seal. Jacketed variants push that principle in a different direction by adding special fillers, including graphite to the mix. Finally, consider spiral wound gaskets, a semi-metallic solution that uses one or more V-shaped inserts to centre the ring and add resilience to gasket materials for high-pressure vessels.

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