The Importance of Determining the Chemical Resistance of Gaskets

18 November 2016

Proactive design methodologies manufacture gaskets from specially selected materials when chemical resistance is a major issue. Step back from the pipes and storage containers for a minute to see why this design principle is so important. Caustic compounds are coursing through these metal channels. They react aggressively with certain materials. How does a chemical resistance guide stop this aggressive reaction from weakening a gasket?

Modifying Gasket Properties

If seal technology can manufacture products that target heat extremes and intense pressure differentials, then that same know-how can produce seals that can handle different chemical families. Organic fuels and viscous lubricants adhere to this principle, as do acidic compounds. All that’s required is a technical specification sheet and an aptitude for expert material selection. The gasketing material is then manufactured from a chemically-neutral compound, a polymer or metal that won’t react with the conveyed fluid.

Chemical Resistance Counts

Unequivocally, the seals in a chemical line are beyond important. If corrosive chemicals leak because the wrong material has been selected for the joint seal, the escaping fluid could form a toxic cloud and poison the local environment. We’re dealing in “could’s” and “maybe’s” so far, but the damage will cause a catastrophe. At best, imagine the toxic fluid damaging the environment and getting into the local water supply. At worst, well, if the mix is combustible, then a catastrophic explosion will destroy everything in its path.

Determine Resistance

A sound understanding of material properties and the application domain are mandated. Compatibility reference charts are available from material sources, so use this resource before making a commitment to the project. For instance, PTFE holds a special place in a design engineer’s heart because of its chemically neutral structure, but it can weaken when it’s exposed to a fluorinating agent. This example only serves to prove the principles we’re stressing. In short, even the strongest material will fail when it meets its chemical “Kryptonite.” In conclusion, opt for a non-reactive gasket, but do realize that the term “non-reactive” is relative. Its reliability depends on the conveyed or stored chemicals and their reactive properties.

A seal, when compressed and pressed into service, should never be viewed as the weak link in the pipeline. Instead, it must be designed to excel. This challenging feat is made possible by installing the product properly and ensuring that it’s designed to endure, no matter the abrasive chemical within. Always evaluate the chemical resistance of gaskets when working with corrosive and toxic materials.

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