The use of elastomers in oil industry extends over a broad range of applications including seals, packing elements, reactive rubber elements, stators, and pads. These applications require a variety of property requirements that may differ for dynamic and static applications or include a need for stimuli-responsive capabilities in certain tools.
This research details the effect of nanofillers on elastomer properties for oil and gas components. The effects include enhancement of mechanical properties, wear resistance, thermal conductivity and heat expansion properties. In addition, effects of nanofillers on rapid gas decompression (RGD) resistance, chemical resistance to downhole fluids, and resistance to chemical aging at downhole temperatures were investigated.
Advanced rubber nanocomposites formulations, based on Hydrogenated Nitrile Butadiene Rubber (HNBR) elastomers, were designed internally. Their properties were assessed using methods and techniques to qualify elastomers for downhole applications. Mechanical properties of elastomers were evaluated at room temperature and at 325° F, which is a maximum application temperature for HNBR elastomers. RGD testing was conducted according to ISO standards.
Results indicated that it is possible to control mechanical properties of elastomers with nanotechnology, including improving the abrasion resistance of the elastomers by more than 100% in dynamic, wear-intensive applications, when compared to commercial compounds typically used in the oil industry. Thermal conductivity was improved by up to 40%, while heat expansion decreased by 30%, providing more versatility for seal design in dynamic applications which are prone to localized heating. In addition, RGD resistance in nanocomposites was examined and compared it to control samples. The industrial scale feasibility for nano-enhanced elastomers was demonstrated by a scale-up study.