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Proceedings of the 2008 Pressure Vessels and Piping Conference PVP 2008 July 27-31, 2008, Chicago, Ill, USA

PVP2008-61082

THE DESIGN OF FABRIC EXPANSION JOINT GAS SEAL MEMBRANES

David Peterson Robert Broyles Senior Flexonics Pathway Inc. 2400 Longhorn Industrial Drive New Braunfels, Texas 78130 Telephone: (830) 629-8080 Email:dpeterson@pathwayb.com Email:broylesb@pathwayb.com

ABSTRACT Fabric expansion joints are commonly used in round and rectangular ducting systems for accommodating differential thermal expansion and containing internal pressure. Fabric expansion joints are intended for sustained operation without significant leakage. Failure of fabric expansion joints can lead to plant shutdowns. The outer gas seal membrane is a structural material most commonly made from woven fabric with an elastomeric coating. The fibers in the fabric are comparatively strong and flexible but not chemically resistant. The coating protects the fibers from chemical attack and seals the woven fabric to minimize leakage through the material. The fabric material is typically clamped between metal frames attached to the ducting. The orientation of the fibers with respect to the frames is a critical design factor. Fabric expansion joints are normally designed in accordance with the guidelines of the Fluid Sealing Association Technical Handbook. The handbook gives helpful information but does not provide analytical methods for the mechanical design of gas seal membranes. The intent of this paper is to provide analytical methods for determining the movement capability and pressure capacity of gas seal membranes. Test results and non-linear finite element analysis are used to support the proposed methods.

INTRODUCTION Fabric expansion joints are commonly used in round and rectangular ducting systems for accommodating differential thermal expansion and containing internal pressure. Fabric

expansion joints are intended to operate without significant leakage for a long period of time. The outer gas seal membrane or GSM can be made from metal foil or unreinforced elastomeric material. However, it is most commonly made from woven fabric with an elastomeric coating. The fibers in the fabric are comparatively strong and flexible but not chemically resistant. The coating protects the fibers from chemical attack and seals the woven fabric to minimize leakage through the material.

Fabric expansion joints are normally designed in accordance

with the guidelines of the Fluid Sealing Association (FSA)

Technical Handbook [1]. The handbook gives helpful

information but does not provide analytical methods for the mechanical design of the GSM. The intent of this paper is to provide methods for determining the movement capability and pressure capacity of the GSM. This paper is based on the following assumptions:

a. Pressure and movement are applied slowly.

b. Concurrent movements occur simultaneously.

c. The GSM does not flutter during operation.

d. Splices in the GSM are as strong as the base material.

e. Load induced deformations are small.

f. The GSM is woven fabric with an elastomeric coating.

NOMENCLATURE

D

D b

GSM outside diameter (in) Back up bar bolt diameter (in)

1

F

F

F

F

F

F

F

H Frame standoff height from duct (in)

K

L

L

L

P Pressure (lbs/in 2 )

R

SF

T

T

W

W

W

X

X

c

i

Tensile force on GSM (lbs/in) Effective clamping force (lbs/in) Force on GSM due to lateral movement (lbs/in) Force on GSM due to pressure (lbs/in) Force required to cause pull out (lbs/in) Longitudinal pull out force (lbs/in) Radial pull out force (lbs/in)

Stiffness of GSM (lbs/in/in) Distance between back up bars bolts (in) GSM long axis length (in) GSM short axis length (in)

e

L

p

po

1

2

b

L

S

Radius of GSM arch (in) Safety factor Back up bar bolt torque (in-lb) Effective back up bar bolt torque (in-lb) Width of GSM between backup bars (in) Effective width of GSM between backup bars (in) Installed distance between backup bars (in)

Axial movement (in) Axial compression (in) Maximum axial compression (in) Axial extension (in) Maximum axial extension (in) Equivalent axial due to angular rotation (in)

Lateral movement (in) Lateral movement along the long axis (in) Maximum lateral movement (in) Lateral movement along the short axis (in) Equivalent lateral due to torsion (in) Equiv lateral along the long axis due to torsion (in) Equiv lateral along the short axis due to torsion (in)

Angular rotation (rad) Angular rotation about the short axis (rad) Angular rotation about the long axis (rad)

Angle of GSM at back up bar (rad) Shear strain associated with x-y axis (in/in)

Normal strain (in/in) Torsional rotation (rad)

b

e

a

e

X

X

X

X

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

θ

θ

θ

α

cm

e

em

θ

L

m

S

T

TL

TS

S

L

γ xy

ε

θ T

Φ Angle from x-y axis (deg)

FABRIC EXPANSION JOINTS The basic elements of a fabric expansion joint are the GSM, the frame, and the backup bars. The GSM is clamped to the frame using backup bars and bolts. A gasket material is

often used to seal the GSM to the frame. The frame provides a

mounting surface and the necessary standoff height to keep the GSM away from the gas stream. Depending on the duct shape, the frame can be round or rectangular. Rectangular frames normally have round corners. The GSM is wrapped around the frame, spliced, and then clamped in place using the backup bars. A typical fabric expansion joint is shown on Figure 1.

bars. A typical fabric expansion joint is shown on Figure 1. Figure 1 – Fabric Expansion

Figure 1 – Fabric Expansion Joint

FIBER REINFORCEMENT The GSM is reinforced with fibers that are woven at 90 degrees to one another. The resulting construction is similar to the wire cloth used in window screens. The fibers in the length or warp direction are essentially straight. The fibers in the width or fill direction are woven in between the warp fibers. Because of this, the material has greater breaking strength but less elongation in the warp direction. While in the fill direction, the material has less breaking strength but greater elongation. Consequently, the mechanical properties are anisotropic (i.e., not the same in all directions).

The fiber orientation with respect to the axis of the expansion joint is very important to know. When the fibers are aligned with the longitudinal axis of the duct, the orientation is described as orthogonal. When the fibers are rotated at 45 degrees to the longitudinal axis of the duct, the orientation is described as bias. The two orientations are shown in Figure 2.

as bias. The two orientations are shown in Figure 2. Figure 2 – GSM Fiber Orientation

Figure 2 – GSM Fiber Orientation

The selection of fiber orientation is based on both economics and performance.

2

MOVEMENT CAPABILITY For rectangular ductwork, the gas seal can be exposed to seven types of movement as shown in Table 1.

No.

Type

Direction

 

1 Axial compression

Longitudinal

 

2 Axial extension

Longitudinal

 

3 Lateral – EW

Parallel to short side

 

4 Lateral – HW

Parallel to long side

 

5 Angular – EW

About the long side axis

 

6 Angular – HW

About the short side axis

7

Torsion

About the longitudinal axis

Table 1 – Rectangular Ductwork Movement Types

For round ductwork, the gas seal can be exposed to five types of movement as shown in Table 2.

No.

Type

Direction

1

Axial compression

Longitudinal

2

Axial extension

Longitudinal

3

Lateral

Normal to longitudinal axis

4

Angular

About normal to longitudinal axis

5

Torsion

About the longitudinal axis

Table 2 – Round Ductwork Movement Types

AXIAL MOVEMENTS Axial movements are movements in the direction of the longitudinal axis of the duct which either compress or extend the expansion joint. In low pressure systems, axial compression causes the GSM to fold and wrinkle. In higher pressure systems, axial compression causes the GSM to bulge outward or inward. Alternately, axial extension straightens the GSM and reduces folds and bulging. Within limits, axial movements are not detrimental to the performance of the GSM.

LATERAL MOVEMENT Lateral movements are perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the duct. GSM surfaces perpendicular to the direction of lateral movement simply tilt. However, GSM surfaces parallel to the direction of lateral movement are exposed to pure shear which causes shear strain in the GSM. To evaluate the effect of the lateral movement, the magnitude of the shear strain must be found and then converted to normal strain for comparison with uniaxial tensile test data.

From Gere and Timoshenko [2], the normal strain based on pure shear is given by

ε = γ

xy

sin Φ cos Φ

(1)

Normal strain varies with its direction relative to the applied lateral movement. The angle of maximum normal strain is found by setting the derivative equal to zero or

d ε

d Φ

= γ

xy

[sin

(

Φ −

sin

Φ

)

sin

2

Φ +

cos

Φ

sin

Φ =

cos

Φ

sin

Φ =

sin

2

Φ

cos Φ = sin Φ

Φ = 45 deg

+

0

cos

Φ

sin

Φ

]

= 0

(2)

Substituting Φ = 45 deg in the Eq. 1 gives the maximum normal strain or

ε =

γ xy

2

(3)

Assuming pure shear, the shear strain in the GSM is equal to the lateral movement divided by the effective width of material in shear or

γ

xy

=

Y

W

e

(4)

Without consideration for the effect of internal pressure or axial movement, non-linear finite element analysis using (tension only) membrane shell elements shows that the effective width is given by

W

e

= 2W W

a

i

(5)

By substitution, the shear strain is

γ

xy

=

Y

2W

a

W

i

(6)

Table 3 shows good correlation between the results of Equation 6 and FEA.

Y

2W a - W i

γ xy (Eqn 6)

γ xy (FEA)

3

12

0.250

0.247

3

11

0.231

0.232

3

10

0.214

0.209

3

9

0.200

0.198

3

8

0.188

0.184

3

Table 3 – Comparison of Shear Strain Results

From equation 3, the maximum normal strain is

ε =

Y

4W

a

2W

i

(7)

Non-linear finite element analysis using tension only membrane shell elements shows that internal pressure stiffens the GSM and increases the shear strain for a given lateral movement. The maximum stiffening occurs when the pressure is sufficient to maintain the GSM is the shape of a theoretical half circular arch with the lateral movement applied. In this condition, the shear strain increased by a maximum of 50 percent for any given lateral movement. Therefore, the maximum normal strain with a conservative consideration for the pressure stiffening effect is

ε =

1.5 Y

4W

a

2W

i

(8)

Considering the effect of axial movement, the maximum normal strain is

ε =

1.5 Y

4W

a

2(W

i

±

X)

(9)

where –X is compression and +X is extension.

Non-linear finite element analysis using (tension only) membrane shell elements shows that these equations can also be used for large diameter round expansion joints. As shown in Table 4, the shear strain is essentially the same for flat and round models. The maximum normal strain for round expansion joints occurs at two locations 90 degrees from the direction of the lateral movement.

Y

W

e

 

γ xy (FEA)

 

Flat

200 in. Dia

100 in. Dia

3

12

0.247

0.248

0.251

3

11

0.232

0.230

0.236

Table 4 – Shear Strain for Round Expansion Joints

All non-linear finite element analysis was performed using Cosmos/M software [3], (tension only) shell elements, large displacement formulation, and automatic step control.

ANGULAR MOVEMENT Angular movements are rotations about axes perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the duct. Angular movements cause axial extension and axial compression of the GSM which are maximum at 90 deg to the axis of rotation. Angular movements

can be converted to equivalent axial movements. For round expansion joints, the maximum equivalent axial movement is

X

θ

θ D

=

2

(10)

For rectangular expansion joints, the maximum equivalent axial movement which occurs at the corners is

X

θ

=

θ S

L

L

+

θ L

L S

2 2

(11)

TORSIONAL MOVEMENT Torsional movement is rotation about the longitudinal axis of the duct. Like lateral movement, torisional movement exposes the GSM to pure shear. Torsional movements can be converted to equivalent lateral movements. For round expansion joints, the maximum equivalent lateral movement is

Y

T

=

θ

T

D

2

(12)

For rectangular expansion joints, the maximum equivalent lateral movements are

Y TS

Y TL

=

=

θ

T

L

L

θ

2

T

L

S

2

(13)

(14)

CONCURRENT MOVEMENTS When different types of movements occur simultaneously, the movements are defined as concurrent and can be combined for comparison to axial and lateral movement limits. The maximum combined equivalent axial movements for round and rectangular expansion joints are given by

X

X

cm

em

=

X

= X

c

e

+ X

+ X

θ

θ

(15)

(16)

The maximum combined equivalent lateral movement for round expansion joints is given by

Y

m

= Y + Y

T

(17)

The maximum combined equivalent lateral movement for rectangular expansion joints is given by

4

Y

m

= Greater of Y + Y

S

TS

or

Figure

movements

3

shows

the

directions

Y

L

+ Y

TL

of

the

equivalent

(18)

lateral

the directions Y L + Y TL of the equivalent (18) lateral Figure 3 – Equivalent

Figure 3 – Equivalent Lateral Movements

PRESSURE CAPACITY At higher pressures, the GSM in rectangular expansion joints will bulge and assume the shape of a circular arc between the backup bars within the movement limits given on the next section. The reinforcing fibers resist the pressure force. Figure 4 represents a unit long segment from a GSM under pressure.

4 represents a unit long segment from a GSM under pressure. Figure 4 – Unit long

Figure 4 – Unit long GSM segment

The equilibrium equation is

F

P

=

2R

2

(19)

Therefore, the unit tensile force on the fibers is

F = PR

(20)

The tensile force is directly proportional to the radius. Therefore, the maximum tensile force occurs when the distance between the backup bars is W i + X em .

For a GSM installed with either orthogonal or bias fiber orientation, the maximum radius of the circular arc can be found from the standard mensuration equation as follows

R =

W

a

2Arcsin   W

i

+

X

em

2R

for

R

W

i

+

X

em

2

(21)

An iterative method must be used to find R (Note: the Arcsin function is in radians).

Round expansion joints with positive internal pressure require a different approach because bulging of the GSM to form a circular arc simultaneously increases the circumference. If the GSM cannot elongate sufficiently in the circumferential direction, the pressure load will be restrained fully in the circumferential direction before the arch shape develops. From the test data, orthogonal fiber orientation has very limited elongation. If the GSM has orthogonal fiber orientation, the pressure load is assumed to be carried entirely by the circumferential fibers. Therefore, the unit tensile force on the fibers is

F =

PD

2

(22)

If the GSM has bias fiber orientation, the assumption is that the arch shape will fully develop and the unit tensile force on the fibers will be the same as rectangular expansion joints or

F = PR

(23)

The force due to pressure must be limited so that the GSM fibers do not break or the GSM does not pull out from under the backup bars.

MOVEMENT LIMITS With positive internal pressure, the maximum axial compression for this paper occurs when GSM material has the shape of an outward half circular arch between the backup bars. The GSM width required to produce that shape is

W

=

π

(

W

i

X

cm

)

a 2

(24)

Therefore, the maximum axial compression is

X

π

W

i

2W

a

=

W

a

for

1

π

cm π W

i

2

(25)

This limit prevents the GSM from folding over the backup bars.

5

With negative internal pressure, the maximum axial compression for this paper occurs when GSM material has the shape of an inward circular arch with a height equal to the frame standoff height. The radius of the circular arch is taken from standard mensuration equations as follows

R =

W a for 0

R

2 2RH − H
2
2RH
− H

 

2Arcsin


H

R

(26)

An iterative method must be used to find R (Note: the Arcsin function is in radians).

The maximum axial compression is

X W

cm

=

i

2

2 2RH − H
2
2RH
H

for X

cm

0

(27)

This limit assures that the GSM will not enter the flow stream or come in contact with the flow liner.

Further limits on axial compression may be necessary if excessive folding could be detrimental to performance. This may be the case in low pressure high temperature applications where folds can hinder natural convection and create hot spots in the material.

With a 1 inch safety margin, the maximum axial extension is given by

X

em

=

W

a

W

i

1

(28)

This limit assures that the GSM will never be straight and tight between the backup bars. Further limits on axial extension may be necessary if other movements are present or because of the internal pressure.

FORCE LIMITS

Limiting

the

force

on

the

GSM

is

important

for

safe

operation. The allowable unit force is given by

Allowable Force =

BreakingStrength x Reduction Factors

Safety Factor

Strength reduction factors typically consider the effects of temperature and aging. Higher temperatures reduce the breaking strength of GSM materials. The reduction factor for temperature is determined by performing tensile tests at various temperatures in accordance with ASTM D638. The reduction

factor for temperature is shown in Figure 5 for a commonly used PTFE coated fiberglass material.

5 for a commonly used PTFE coated fiberglass material. Figure 5 – GSM Temperature Factor Aging

Figure 5 – GSM Temperature Factor

Aging is the effect of higher temperature exposure over prolonged periods of time which causes a reduction in breaking strength. Aging is determined by exposing material specimens to a specific temperature for different periods of time and then performing tensile tests. The reduction factor for aging is shown in Figure 6 for a commonly used PTFE coated fiberglass material at 450 degF.

a commonly used PTFE coated fiberglass material at 450 degF. Figure 6 – GSM Aging Factor

Figure 6 – GSM Aging Factor

Additional reduction factors may be applied to address the detrimental effects of the media on the breaking strength of the material.

Safety factors address expected variations in material performance, installation, operation, and environment. Typical safety factors for structural fabric materials range from 3 to 5.

Unless the GSM warp and fill directions for the finished expansion joint can be specified in advance, using the breaking strength for the fill direction is advisable.

6

STRAIN LIMITS The maximum normal strain must be limited so that the GSM is not damaged during the lateral movement cycles. The strain limit is a function of the type of material and the orientation of the reinforcing fibers. The strain limit is based on GSM tensile testing performed in accordance with ASTM D638. Test specimens are made with both orthogonal fiber orientation and bias fiber orientation with respect to the applied load. The specimens are mounted in a tensile test fixture. A tensile load is applied slowly. The machine records load verses elongation for each specimen. The load is applied until the material breaks. Typical test results for a commonly used GSM material are shown in Table 5.

Fiber Orientation

Elongation (%)

Orthogonal (warp)

3

Bias

30+

Table 5 – Typical GSM Elongation

The maximum strain is at 45 degrees for lateral movement. Therefore, the maximum strain for material installed with orthogonal fiber orientation is actually in the bias direction of the fabric. The maximum strain for material installed with bias fiber orientation is in the orthogonal direction of the fabric.

The maximum elongation with orthogonal fiber orientation is typically very small. For that reason, lateral and torsional movements should not be applied when the GSM is installed with bias fiber orientation.

The allowable strain is given by

Allowable Strain =

Max. Elongation x Reduction Factors

Safety Factor x 100

Elongation reduction factors are used to address possible detrimental effects from chemical attack and higher temperatures.

Safety factors address expected variations in material performance, installation, operation, and environment. Typical safety factors for structural fabric materials range from 3 to 5.

Unless the GSM warp and fill directions for the finished expansion joint can be specified in advance, the elongation for the warp direction should be used.

GSM PULL OUT The GSM is clamped between the backup bars. Lateral movement, torsional movement, and pressure create forces that attempt to pull out the GSM from between the backup bars. If

the force is sufficiently large to overcome the resisting backup bar clamping force, the GSM will pull out resulting in catastrophic failure. Therefore, the pull out forces which are shown in Figure 7 should be limited.

out forces which are shown in Figure 7 should be limited. Figure 7 – GSM Pull

Figure 7 – GSM Pull Out Forces

The pull out force is based on the total force applied by the GSM at the backup bars. The total force comes from both pressure and lateral movement. As indicated above, the longitudinal force due to pressure is

F p =

PR

(29)

The lateral and torsional movement of the expansion joint is resisted by shearing strain in the GSM. As indicated previously, the shearing strain results in a maximum normal strain at 45 degrees. Therefore, the force at the backup bar can be determined from the maximum normal strain and the stiffness of the GSM at 45 degrees. The stiffness can be found by tensile testing GSM specimens with the fibers at 45 degrees from the installed orientation. For a GSM installed orthogonally, the tensile tests are performed in the bias direction. The stiffness at 45 degrees is

K =

Applied Unit Load x 100

Elongation

(30)

The resulting longitudinal force is

F L =

0.707

ε

K

(31)

The total longitudinal force on the GSM at the backup bar is

F = F

p

+ F

L

(32)

Based on the geometry, the maximum unit pull out forces generated by the GSM are determined as follows

7

+ X  i em α = Arcsin   W   2R 
+ X
i
em
α = Arcsin   W
2R
2
+
X
i
em
F
= F Cos
α =
F
1
−   W
1
2R
F W
[
+ X
]
i
em
F
=
F Sin
α =
2
2R

(33)

(34)

(35)

Pull out is resisted by the bolt clamping force and friction between the backup bars and the GSM. The load required to start moving the GSM out from between the backup bars is the pullout force. For safe operation,

F

1

F po

SF

(36)

where SF is the safety factor to account for variations in installation conditions and bolt clamping force. A minimum safety factor of 1.5 is recommended.

The pull out force is determined from actual tests. The test fixture is shown in Figure 8.

from actual tests. The test fixture is shown in Figure 8. Figure 8 – GSM Pull

Figure 8 – GSM Pull Out Test Fixture

Tests were performed using a GSM made from PTFE coated fiberglass cloth with ½ inch diameter plated bolts on 6 inch

centers. The back-up bars are 3/8 x 2 inch carbon steel flat bar with full radius edges. The maximum pull out force (F po ) is the total force on the gage divided by the distance between the back-up bar bolts (L b ). The test results are shown in Table 6.

Bolt

Torque

Max. Pull Out Force (lbs/in)

Observations

(in-lbs)

276

142

Pull out

540

257

Pull out

804

356

Pull out & Tearing

Table 6 – GSM Pull Out Force Test Results

Tearing occurred at a unit load well below the rated load capacity of the GSM because the load on the GSM is not uniformly distributed between the bolt locations. Figure 9 shows the movement pattern of the GSM under load. As expected, the clamping force is highest at the bolt locations.

the clamping force is highest at the bolt locations. Figure 9 – GSM Pull Out Movement

Figure 9 – GSM Pull Out Movement

The approximate unit clamping force is given by

Clamping Force =

T

b

0.2L D

b

b

(37)

With positive internal pressure, the in-service clamping force is reduced by the radial pull out force (F 2 ). Therefore, the effective clamping force is

F

c

=

T

e

0.2L D

b

b

=

T

b

0.2L D

b

b

2F

2

(38)

Solving for the effective bolt torque gives

T

e

= T

b

0.4F L D

2

b

b

(39)

The effective bolt torque should be used to find the maximum pull out force (Fpo) from the test data.

8

BACKUP BARS The backup bars hold the GSM on the frame. Under pressure, the GSM wraps around the inside edge of the backup bars. Consequently, a smooth edge and radius is important so that the GSM coating will not be damaged during operation. It is also important that the ends of the backup bar segments are close together and not significantly mismatched. Finite element analysis using truss and gap elements shows that there is no significant load concentration in the GSM with a 3/16 inch or larger backup bar radius.

APPLICATION RECOMMENDATIONS Table 7 gives recommendation for GSM applications.

Duct Shape

Lateral or

Fiber Orientation

Torsional

Orthogonal

Bias

Movement

Round

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes 1

Yes

Rectangular

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

1 Not recommended for applications with high positive internal pressure.

Table 7 – Application Recommendations

REFERENCES [1] Ducting Systems Non-Metallic Expansion Joint Technical Handbook, 3rd Edition, Fluid Sealing Assoc., Wayne, Pa, 1997 [2] Gere, J. M. and Timoshenko, S. P., 1997, Mechanics of Materials, 4 th Edition, PWS Publishing, Boston, p. 521. [3] Cosmos/M 2.95 software, Solid Works Corp., Concord, Mass., 2005.