The oil and gas industry is continuously looking for material and tool designs with more robustness that provides greater operational flexibility in aggressive environments. New elastomeric systems that have been enhanced at the nanometer scale have been engineered to address these needs.

Nano-enhanced EPDM showed 95-percent lower swelling rate in oil at ambient temperature. Nano-enhanced HNBR compound exhibited 15 times lower absorption in 300°F hydrocarbon fluid. Nano-enhanced FEPM compound showed 20 times lower absorption. Nano-enhanced FEPM bladder material submersed in oil at 300°F yielded a three-fold reduction in the gas transmission rate of a hydrocarbon blend containing both CO2 and of H2S. The same nano-enhanced material showed a 50-percent reduction in the degradation effects of H2S on the NBR physical properties. All of the above are lab results, and the comparisons were made to baseline commercially available rubber compounds without nano-enhancement.

Our results demonstrated that nanotechnology can be very effectively used to significantly modify properties of commonly used rubber compounds in the oil and gas industry. The oil swelling rate can be drastically reduced to give operators a greater flexibility in setting the packers and reducing intervention. Sour gas-based slowdown of material retardation translates to higher tool life. These findings can be used to design new packers, sealing elements and other elastomeric components used in downhole environment. This paper will present our recent lab results along with postulated mechanism on how nanotechnologies can impact material performance in downhole applications.

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