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How to Design and Select Seals for Oil and Gas

As competition for natural resources increases, petrochemical companies have begun to look to new locations that pose new challenges from arctic operations with low ambient temperatures to subsea equipment with high pressures and extreme temperatures.

In addition, companies face higher demands for safety, reliability, and environmentally-friendly designs and processes.  There is also the challenge of reducing the footprint of structures and equipment for exploration and production of oil and gas.  All of these factors combined have driven up the costs involved in exploration and production, and made the design of oil and gas systems far more complex.

The design and selection of appropriate seals is key to many of these issues…

When seals malfunction, unpleasant things result:

  • personal safety hazards,
  • explosions and fires,
  • damage to local ecosystems,
  • downtime,
  • and repair costs.

The selection of seals that are effective and reliable is vital.  Many engineers are turning to PTFE spring-energized seals for oil and gas operations.  In this post, we are going to take a look at why based on the three key factors for seal selection: temperature, pressure, and media.

Extreme Temperatures

Temperature is one of the key aspects of selecting a seal in the oil and gas industry.  High temperature steam can cause a seal to become brittle and crack.  Temperatures below the glass transition temperature of a seal can cause a seal to behave as a brittle material, resulting in unexpected failure.

Polytetrafluoroethylene PTFE (Teflon) behaves differently from other plastics when it comes to its behavior at extremely high and cryogenically low temperatures.  There is still considerable debate over what its glass transition temperature is, but researchers agree that it can hold its strength at higher temperatures than most polymers, and still behave in a ductile manner at lower temperatures.

There are several different types of PTFE polymer seal jackets are available for spring-energized seals.  They cover a range of temperatures; for example, polyimide filled PTFE can function in temperatures down to -450° F while glass/PTFE can operate in temperatures up to 500° F.

Pressure Issues 

Pressures between 1,500 psi and 15,000 psi are becoming commonplace, buy in some applications pressures are up to 25,000 psi. PTFE seals offer excellent performance at both low pressures – where the spring energized seals support sealing even at low temperatures – and high pressures.

Pressure specifications for a seal are not just limited to the sealing capabilities, but can affect other properties as well.  For example, pressure can affect the glass transition temperature of a polymer: high pressures can drive down the glass transition temperature of a polymer, causing it to exhibit unexpected brittle behavior.  This is especially critical in sub-sea environments.

Another issue with pressure is extrusion.  There are certain types of filled PTFE that offer extremely high resistance to extrusion:  Moly-Filled PTFE, Glass-Moly PTFE, and Polyimide-Filled PTFE.

Aggressive Media

Seals in the oil and gas industry are obviously are going to be exposed to chemically aggressive media.  Sour gas and acid gas are some of the most chemically aggressive materials encountered in this industry, but PTFE is resistant to their attacks.  When media such as this are combined with high pressures and extreme temperatures, PTFE still performs well.


Oil and gas companies are faced with increasingly complex challenges, and to meet those challenges they need cutting edge equipment with reliable components.  Spring energized PTFE seals are one of those components, providing a leak-tight seal, excellent performance over a wide range of temperatures, and compatibility with many corrosive chemicals encountered.


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The Oil and Gas Industry During Covid-19

During the early months of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic raged across the globe, the oil and gas industry face a historic collapse.

2020 was a year of astounding disruption.

With restrictions in travel, decline in economic activity, a price war between various countries, and declines in stock, the industry was shaken to its very core and, like many other industries, forced to reinvent itself in the wake of 2020.

In this week’s blog post we will discuss the state of the oil and gas industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, how it has fared, and innovations that have been made.

An Industry Wide Crisis

2020 was a volatile year for many industries, oil and gas in particular. In the early months of 2020, oil prices had declined by about 33%. After that various oil producing countries engaged in a price war, triggered by a breakdown in dialogue. COVID-19 caused a historic drop in travel, causing the demand for oil to plummet to unprecedented lows.

WTI spot prices declined to as low as $8.91 a barrel in April of 2020, a level not seen since the economic recession of 1986. The drop in oil prices has also added problems to several energy producing states and local governments in the US, such as Texas, that are dependent on oil and gas revenue.

Many companies had to reorganize their entire business model, and many others were forced to file for bankruptcies or to liquidate their assets.

Things looked fairly bleak for the industry as 2020 progressed and the pandemic continued to rage across the globe. Despite that there were several silver linings.

Oil in the Medical Market

One good thing is that despite the disruption in oil production, causing a drop of more than a million barrels per day over the year, there has been little to no shortage in actual supply of oil. This means that people have still been able to fill their car or use natural gas to heat their home. The industry has also been open during large parts of the pandemic, having been deemed essential by the government. This makes sense, as petroleum is used in everything from anesthetics to wheelchairs to the gas the powers ambulances.

Likewise, while there has been a shortage of medical supplies such as masks and ventilators, it was mainly a planning issue. These supplies and others like gowns, surgical equipment, syringes and more are made with petroleum-based products. As such the oil and gas industry was able assist to manufacture all of those products in mere weeks to meet the demands created by COVID-19.

Similarly, with the COVID-19 vaccines include syringes made from plastics derived from petroleum, and the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine require storage in industrial refrigeration made possible thanks to petroleum-based products.


While there is no doubt that COVID-19 has disrupted the oil and gas industry, some are stating that it may be a blessing in some ways. According to a report by the International Bar Association, the “reduction in oil and gas prices has increased the pressure on the industry to seek greater efficiency and reduce production costs.”

One promising alternative is digitalization, either through virtual modeling for project optimization, digital planning, cloud-based process design or machine learning.

With the social distancing requirements in place in many countries, this has forced companies to streamline remote work platforms.

Bob Benstead, VP of business cloud software firm Infor had this to say on the subject:

“I believe the biggest development that the oil and gas industry will see in 2021 will be the dramatic ramp-up of digital initiatives. This will truly push the industry toward new thinking, especially around how to maximize AI and machine learning, aligned to sensors and other Internet of Things devices, to drive down costs and optimize the workforce. Additionally, the increased trend toward cloud computing will help to significantly lower the total cost of service (TCS) to build, run and maintain efficient ERP (enterprise resource planning) and EAM (enterprise asset management) systems that oil and gas companies rely on.” ( “What Looms for Oil and Gas in 2021”)

Digitalization is expected to play a key role in the oil and gas industry as 2021 goes on. With enabling remote operations and allowing more human-machine collaboration, digitalizing is driving the industry forward.

Hope on the Horizon

The EIA (the US Energy Information Administration) predicts that the cost of crude oil will decline by the second half of 2021, making a more balanced global oil market. This will hopefully lower gas prices, which have been at record highs, as well as lowering the cost of production of petroleum-based products.

The oil and gas industry is also looking towards the future, with key players looking into clean energy transition, exploring public-private partnerships.

In early October, 323 rigs were working in domestic oil plays, which rose to 413 for the week ended Dec. 23, up about 28% year to date. This is still down substantially from the 838 rigs active in early March, but up nearly 50% from the early-July low of 279.

And finally, while the oil and gas industry as a whole has seen a downturn in profit, one sector, the gas pump market, as seen a CAGR growth of 6.85% in 2020, and is expected to reach a market size of US$8.685 billion by the year 2026.

In Conclusion

The impact of COVID-19 on the oil and gas industry has forced many to discuss the future of one of the world’s most volatile industries. Despite the hardships, however, there is no doubt that oil and gas will remain an important part in the global economy, and our every day lives, for some time to come.

For more information of polymer sealing solutions for oil and gas, contact Advanced EMC Technologies today!

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The Automotive Industry During COVID-19

Like many industries, the automotive industry has been on a roller coaster of highs and lows during the coronavirus crisis.

How COVID-19 is Affecting the Automotive Industry

With countries around the world struggling to regain traction, here is how some of the major players are doing.


During the beginning of 2020, there were concerns over a disruption in Chinese export parts. Total shipments during the first half of the year were down by 10%.

In response, June saw the Chinese government announcing its plan to increase the NEV credit ratio by 2 percentage points every year until 2023, from 12% in 2020 to 14% in 2021, 16% in 2022, and 18% in 2023.


Europe has faced a large-scale interruption of productions during lockdown. Sales of vehicles also declined by 16% and car registrations have fallen to about 25%. This downturn has had a ripple effect in other European markets as well. The petrochemical market in particular has been heavily affected by the challenges faced by the European automotive industry.

However, with the easing of lockdowns in many countries in addition to various economic revival stimulus packages, Europe is once again seeing a growth in the auto industry.

United States

In the US, assembly plant closures have added to the already intense pressure on an increasingly distressed market, with limited inventory and fewer incentives continuing to hold back sales. Total sales for the first half of the year were down an average of 23%, with Toyota being hit particularly hard with a decrease of 24%.

There is hope, however. While still not at the same capacity as before the pandemic, Automakers like General Motors and Ford have been able to add shifts to their assembly plants. GM expects to rebuild their inventory to about 600,000 vehicles by the end of 2020.

Continuing Innovation

Despite the downturns and pitfalls this year has thrown, the automotive industry is not without its innovations. This year has seen a marked improvement in crash avoidance technologies. Toyota has partnered with Hebei Pride to commercialize its standardized safety testing for AEB (automatic emergency braking) systems, and Mercedes Benz has announced a new, frontal rear-seat airbags in all of their S class cars. In addition, the United States has passed the Moving Forward Act, which will mandate the inclusion of automatic collision warning technologies in all new passenger vehicles.

In Conclusion

While still bleak, things are slowly starting to look up for the global auto industry. As lockdowns ease up and companies are better prepared to keep employees safe, things are slowly starting to improve. The coronavirus pandemic has been a tough time for everyone, but if we continue to practice social distancing and continuing to innovate, we, regardless of the industry we are in, will get through this better than before.

Advanced EMC Technologies is dedicated to helping you during these uncertain times. Contact us to learn more!

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High Quality PTFE and Polymer Seals for the Oil and Gas Industry

Advanced EMC PTFE and Polymer Seals- Oil and Gas

Advanced EMC Technologies is an industry leader in high quality polymer seals for the oil and gas industry. Our sealing systems are custom engineered to provide reliable sealing solutions within high pressure, high temperature, and chemically hostile environments, where optimum performance is critical. We utilize and provide application recommendations for critical polymer seal and bearing requirements. Advanced EMC Technologies delivers high performance PTFE spring energized seals, U Cups, back up rings, O rings, packing sets, dynamic seals and precision components with superior endurance for reduced downtime.

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