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As you probably already know, PEEK is a high-performance engineering polymer that is often used for seals and bearings in some of the most aggressive, harsh service environments you can imagine. Such properties make it perfect for use in the petrochemical industry. In fact, there are six specific reasons why PEEK has become a go-to material for oil and gas applications.

Oil Rig - PEEK Components


Reason #1: Ability to perform at extreme temperatures

PEEK provides excellent performance at extreme temperatures. It retains its critical properties at continuous service temperatures ranging from cryogenic up to 500°F, making it ideal for the intense thermal environments encountered in oil and gas applications. It also retains its properties when continuously exposed to hot water and steam.

Reason #2: Chemical resistance

Another reason why PEEK is a popular choice for the oil and gas industry is its outstanding chemical resistance, which is comparable to PPS. Harsh chemical environments, including exposure to H2S (hydrogen sulfide), are not a problem for PEEK. It is also resistant to hydrolysis.

Reason #3: Mechanical strength

PEEK has excellent tensile, compressive, and impact strength, which can be further improved through the additives such as carbon, graphite, and glass fibers. It has a well-deserved reputation for being both stiff and strong, even in aggressive environments.

Reason #4: Low water absorption rate

Another feature that makes PEEK desirable is its low water absorption rate. This characteristic especially stands out when comparing PEEK to a material like Nylon: the absorption rate of nylon is on the order of 6% while PEEK is closer to 0%. This makes PEEK dimensionally stable even in extremely humid or wet environments. This is a key feature for bearings and seals.

Reason #5: Extremely low CTE

Its extremely low CTE (coefficient of thermal expansion) adds even more to its thermal stability. This is especially true in applications where it is subject to extreme changes in temperature — you can rely on it to hold its shape and dimension. A very low CTE is important for seals and bearings, especially in the oil and gas industry.

Reason #6: Processability

When it comes to manufacturability, PEEK leads the pack. It can be extruded, injection molded, compression molded, and even machined. By lending itself to a variety of manufacturing methods, PEEK can be used for non-standard sizes and dimensions as well as short or long production runs. It is an unusually straightforward material to fabricate and machine.

Additional Properties

In addition to the properties discussed, PEEK also offers durability and a low wear rate.  Also, PEEK has a V-0 flammability rating and exhibits very low toxic gas and smoke emission when exposed to flames. When graphite is used as an additive, PEEK has outstanding thermal conductivity that allows it to conduct heat away very quickly. PEEK is available in several different grades, including specialized bearings grades.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a polymeric material that can handle the rigors of oil and gas application, look into PEEK. It has an excellent reputation for its ability to reliably outperform other materials in the harsh environments of the petrochemical industry.

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