Guide to Elastomers in Oil & Gas Industry

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Elastomers are high-quality rubber (or plastic) used when sealing is required. Primarily used as o-rings, seals and gaskets, elastomers are used in packers, completion equipment, liner hangers, plugs, BOP, wellhead equipment, stimulation and zonal isolation equipment, logging tools, sampling equipment, motors and alike. There is a large variety of elastomers available today to match down-hole well conditions, when it comes to pressure, temperature, corrosion, H2S, the impact of chemicals and alike. Yet, it is generally agreed that there is no product that will meet all the criteria, hence selection of the right elastomer is key in ensuring the longest life and reliability, at optimum cost.  Wrongly selected elastomers can lead to problems in well or overly expensive projects.  Depending on the application, cost of elastomers may change up 5x, i.e. HP/HT and H2S content higher grades of elastomers must be selected, from FFKM family. 

Elastomers are not natural and are a product of chemistry. The difference between natural rubber and elastomers is simple - the former is made of natural rubber (latex), whereas the latter is a synthetic rubber and made of a polymer that shows elastic properties, with up to 10 other components that may be included when manufacturing elastomers.  There are various brands and sub-materials from various manufacturers with branded names and trademarks. Elastomers are also classified into elastomers, fluoroelastomers and perfluoroelastomers. The classification is very complex, but it is mainly around:

  • NBR is a basic nitrile rubber
  • HNBR has slightly better tolerance than standard nitrile
  • EPDM is used for sealing water-based liquids when there is no oil contact 
  • FKM is a group of about 80% of fluoroelastomers. FKM fluoroelastomers are divided into different types (from 1 to 5). There are many manufactures of FKM globally. 
  • FEPM is a copolymer of tetrafluoroethylene (TFE) and propylene. These materials have better chemical and heat resistance characteristics 
  • FFKM is a perfluoro-elastomers with higher amount of fluoride than FKM which makes them more chemical and heat resistant 

Although there are more manufactures globally, below is the list of major materials and producers used in the oil industry. 

Name Class Applications in Oil &  Gas Other Applications Manufacturer 



Nitrile



NBR
  • Low to medium down-hole temperature
  • Fairly good resistance to CO2 and brines 
  • Not used in H2S and high ph fluids 
  • Most commonly used in completion equipment



Various



Various
Hydrogenated Nitrile  HNBR Slightly better tolerance than standard nitrile
  • Automobile
  • Paper mills 
Various 





EnDura®





EPDM
  • Explosive Decompression resistance
  • Down-hole temperature from -51°C up to +250°C 
  • High mechanical strength
  • Chemical resistance to oilfield fluids and gases
  • High pressure capability
  • High temperature steam applications





None





PPE ( Precision Polymer Engineering)
Tecnoflon® FKM Low to medium down-hole temperature
  • Aerospace 
  • Automotive 
Solvay


Viton®


FKM
  • Medium to high down-hole temperature ( 200°C to 315°C)
  • Resistant to H2S
  • Economical solution in high-temperature and harsh-chemical environments
  • Automotive 
  • Hoses & Rubber Tubes
  • Gloves  
  • Aerospace
  • Appliances


DuPont

Aflas®  

FEPM
  • Medium to high down-hole temperature
  • Resistant to H2S
  • Swell able when used in oil-based fluids
  • Wire & Cable
  • Automotive 


AFLAS

Fluoraz®

FEPM
  • Deep well drilling
  • HP/HT and H2S applications 
  • Sour fluids resistance 

None

Greene Tweed

Kalrez®

FFKM
 
  • HP/HT applications
  • Tubing-to-packer seals
  • DD, LWD and MWD tools
  • Chemical processing
  • Semiconductor
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Automotive

DuPont

Chemraz®

FFKM
  • HP/HT applications
  • DD, LWD and MWD tools
  • Steam Injection applications
  • Arctic applications with subzero temperatures  

None

Greene Tweed

 

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