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An Improved Design of Threaded Closures for Screw Plug (Breech Lock) Heat Exchangers

[+] Author Affiliations
Haresh K. Sippy

TEMA India Limited, Maharashtra, India

Dipak K. Chandiramani

Independent Consultant, Maharashtra, India

Paper No. PVP2016-63137, pp. V01BT01A048; 7 pages
  • ASME 2016 Pressure Vessels and Piping Conference
  • Volume 1B: Codes and Standards
  • Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, July 17–21, 2016
  • Conference Sponsors: Pressure Vessels and Piping Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5036-7
  • Copyright © 2016 by ASME


Threaded closures for pressure vessels have been in use for decades. Much work has been done to develop convenient, safe and economical threaded closures. Threaded closures are used when there is a need for opening the vessel either for maintenance or as part of its operation.

Heat Exchangers are a typical application where there is a need for opening the vessel and cleaning the tubes at regular intervals to maintain the heat transfer efficiency. These are known as Breech Lock or Screw Plug Exchangers. These are basically U-tube exchangers. The channel side operates at high temperature and pressure and it has a threaded end closure. In some designs, the shell side may also be at high pressure. The tube bundle is removable without having to dismantle the channel or disconnect the nozzles from the pipeline. Thus screw plug exchangers help to reduce fabrication cost and reduce time for in-service maintenance.

The major problem encountered with the use of such end closures are 1) Jamming of the threaded plug, due to deformation of the channel barrel. Thus the opening of the end closure by unscrewing becomes a difficult task. With the increase in operating temperatures and pressures, the problems become more severe, due to which, users are not inclined to use these type of end closures.

A study was undertaken to assess the reasons for bulging of the end of the channel which caused jamming of the screw threads and also for leakage through the gasket.

By shrink fitting a ring over the end of the channel, the deformation was reduced, enabling easy opening of the cover.

2) The leakage through the gasket between the shell and tubesheet, causing the intermixing of shell and tube-side fluids. This on analysing was found that the additional forces were acting on the gasket due to thermal expansion of the internals. This led to changing to a gasket that could withstand the forces and pressure.

Leakage through the gasket was prevented by analysing the additional forces acting on the gasket due to thermal expansion of the internals and changing to a gasket that could withstand the forces and pressure.

Copyright © 2016 by ASME



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