Gasket Materials that Can Withstand Harsh Weather Conditions

20 August 2019

Harsh climates can damage sensitive machinery. Following on from that claim, extreme weather conditions cause damage to tough-as-nails industrial materials. And, since pipelines travel across vast open spaces, often while attacked by the most severe elemental forces, then they’re an easy target for this effect. Hot or cold, wet or dry, climate extremes can compromise a pipe, at least that’s the case if a pipe has a weak spot.

Gasket Stress: Extreme Weather Impact

Concerning that weak spot, gaskets can hardly be called fragile. They’re made of tough engineering plastics, dense fibres and durable metals. Still, think about weather-driven performance fluctuations. A hot sun directs radiated thermal energy straight at a flange. It reacts like a heat sink and absorbs the energy. Okay, the gasket material can handle the heat, but now the sun sinks. A cold night drops hard, the compressible seal contracts, and then the sun comes up again. Cyclical forces expand and contract the gasket. If this material can’t tolerate these transient energies, it’ll fail. Not right away, but the seal will eventually become inflexible, to the point that it cracks.

Materials That Can Handle Weather Extremes

Desert weather is bad, for that’s where cycling forces are at their worst. Arctic environments aren’t much better, though. What’s needed here, in both situations, is a weather-adaptable gasket family. The chosen material won’t crack when it’s chilled, nor will it harden when attacked by UV radiation. Lastly, neither ozone nor cyclical heating and cooling can cause the material to weaken. Whatever the occasion, it sounds like this is a job for a fluoroelastomer seal. Viton, a branded fluoroelastomer, can withstand high and low-temperature extremes, plus the material altering properties of both Ultraviolet rays and ozone gas. If this harsh-environment candidate doesn’t suit a specified application, a polyurethane gasket will provide an almost as capable set of weather negating features.

Essentially, thermal fluctuations are the biggest threats, but there’s also ultraviolet radiation, icy rain and ozone, too. Impressively capable, even when set upon by harsh weather conditions, Viton stays elastic when the temperature drops as low as -30°C. Better yet, especially for desert-installed seals, the synthetic rubber can tolerate 260°C of blistering heat. If Viton or polyurethane isn’t viable options, gasket designers are rarely stuck. EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) rubber is yet another option. As a weather-resistant gasket material, this material makes for an outstanding cold weather candidate. Silicone is the last member of this weather beating quartet, but the story doesn’t end here, not when there are composites available that combine the best features of all of these synthetic rubbers.

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