High Performance Fluoroelastomer Nanocomposite Seals For Geothermal Submersible Pumps
Electrical Submersible Pumps (ESPs) for use in geothermal energy production are subjected to harsh downhole environments. These environments include hot brine (which contains calcium and chloride ions, corrosive hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide, and silica and entrained sand) at temperatures in the range of 300 to 450 °F. Fluoroelastomeric materials are frequently used as seals in these applications, but these materials degrade over time in these harsh environments, leading to equipment failure. This project will demonstrate the feasibility of novel fluoroelastomers that utilize nanoscale additives that do not suffer from the interfacial issues of conventional reinforcing fillers. The incorporation of these nanoscale additives is expected to enhance the mechanical, physical, and chemical-resistance properties of the fluoroelastomer, while at the same time retaining the desirable properties required of seals. In Phase I, this new fluoroelastomeric material will be used to fabricate o-rings, which will be tested under the harsh conditions that would be experienced by ESPs during geothermal energy production. A field study will be conducted in Phase II. Commercial Applications and other Benefits as described by the awardee: The new fluoroelastomeric materials should find numerous uses in applications that experience harsh environments. Besides the o-rings and related seals found in ESPs for geothermal energy production, the fluoroelastomers could be used in oil and natural gas drilling/production and as seals for space exploration applications. The fluoroelastomer materials used in drilling applications represent a multi-billion dollar business.
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