A seal is a device used to support the joining of mechanisms or systems together by preventing leakage, absorbing pressure, or excluding contamination. The effectiveness of seals depends upon adhesion. Seals are widely used in diverse industries, such as oil & gas, automotive, and chemical processing. 

Seals industry has been striving to keep up with the rapidly developing and proliferating electronics and semiconductor sector. Over time, advanced techniques have paved way for novel seal geometries and rubber based compounds with thermal, chemical, and cleanliness properties. Consequently, polymer based seals were introduced in the market. There are a wide range of polymers, such as perfluoroelastomer and fluorocarbon, used for manufacturing seals, globally. 

Polymer seals are primarily designed to be used in numerous rotating, pneumatic, and hydraulic equipment across diverse industries, such as oil & gas, aerospace and automotive, worldwide. For instance, polymer seals are highly used in aerospace industry to withstand various extreme conditions, and are critical to the system’s operational reliability. 

The insights presented here are based on a report on polymer seals market by Fact.MR. A sample is available upon request

Polymer Seals Witnessing Growing Adoption in Oil & Gas Applications 

The oil & gas industry demands high-performing material based seals for use in extreme environments. Polymer seals are widely used in the oil & gas industry, though they face some of the most hazardous conditions possible. Polymer seals used in oil & gas applications are composed of most advanced polymers. As the recovery of oil, gas and hydrocarbons is growing difficult, it has become vital for manufacturers of polymer seals to use the polymers that can withstand high temperatures and extreme pressure ranges. Standard polymer seals often fail to perform to a desired level, limiting the chances of exploration and recovery. 

The burgeoning demand for oil & gas across the globe has paved way for novel techniques and equipment for deep well drilling. The equipment used in such processes often dig to depths ranging from 500 feet to more than 11,000 feet. For these specialized projects, oil & gas firms need high performance seals to support these machines. Polymer seals are gaining traction for such processes, owing to the unique properties of polymers. 

Key Advantages of High-Performance Polymers based Seals in Oil & Gas Industry

High-performance polymers are finding a wide range of applications in the oil & gas sector. An emerging generation of premium grade polyamides, polyamides and polyaryletherketones are offering diverse solutions for the oil & gas industry that was traditionally committed to metal parts. Most of the metals are susceptibility to corrosion, and thus wither in the harsh operating and environmental conditions found in on-shore and off-shore petrochemicals facilities, and pipelines. Whereas, polymer seals can add value to underwater operations. 

Failures along any part of an offshore or onshore system can result into the production shutdown, which is quite expensive. Furthermore, in worst cases, leakages can cause environmental damage. When used in the oil & gas industry, polymer seals result into long life times, improved uptime, and reduced maintenance cycles. They are highly useful for the oil & gas industry, since they offer outstanding resistance to high-temperature steam. 

Companies in oil & gas industry rely on the PEEK or Polyetheretherketone based seals, as they exhibit a quite stable chemical structure, which offers this polymer an extra edge over other materials. The adoption of PEEK seal rings for making pumps, pistons, valves and bearings designed for oil & gas industry is growing significantly. This polymer based seal is among the few materials adopted for ultra-high vacuum applications. 

PTFE/Teflon Seal or Polytetrafluoroethylene is among the primary materials used for manufacturing seals for deep well drilling. It is extensively used due to its various benefits, such as non-adhesiveness, high heat resistance, and chemical inertness, which ensure highly effective sealing when used in applications such as hydraulic cylinders. With the environmental demands in the oil & gas industry at the extremes, companies are adopting protective PTFE seals and coatings to streamline operations. The performance of flow sensors improves notably when PTFE based seals or coatings are used.   

The proliferating oil & gas industry is set to increase the demand for polymer seals notably in the forthcoming years. Moreover the burgeoning investments in the oil & gas industry are boosting the demand for the subsea sealing technology, which in turn, is pushing the global demand for polymer seals.