FFKMs, also known as perfluoroelastomers, were first developed in the 1960s for applications involving high temperatures and/or aggressive chemicals. Perfluoroelastomers exhibit many properties similar to PTFE (polytetrafluoroethlyene, or Teflon®), and are considered inert in almost all solvents. However, PTFE is a plastic, and when compressed, it will not recover to its original shape. On the other hand, elastomers contain crosslinks, which act as springs to give the material resiliency and the ability to recover after a part has been compressed – this resistance to permanent compression gives the material the ability to maintain a seal over time. (To learn more about perfluoroelastomers, download our Introduction to Perfluoroelastomers White Paper).
The article below was recently published on FlowControlNetwork.com, and discusses how FFKMs are being used in oil & gas exploration, as production companies are increasingly operating in high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) downhole conditions.
HOW FFKMS PROTECT COMPONENTS IN ENHANCED OIL RECOVERY OPERATIONS
Companies are increasingly operating in high-pressure, high-temperature downhole conditions.
Improving technologies and methods to increase the recovery of oil from existing reservoirs is a global challenge. In the U.S., oil production at reservoirs can include three phases: primary, secondary and tertiary (or enhanced) recovery. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that primary recovery methods — which rely on the natural pressure of the reservoir or gravity to drive oil into the wellbore, combined with pumps to bring the oil to the surface — typically tap only 10 percent of a reservoir’s oil. Furthermore, secondary efforts to extend a field’s productive life — generally by injecting water or gas to displace oil and drive it to a production wellbore — still only push recovery totals to between 20 and 40 percent of the original oil in place. Clearly, much untapped oil and gas remains in existing wells.