Posted at Wednesday, 23 September, 2020

Don't choose a seal that's not the real deal

Paul Skade
By Mick Holland
Director, Sealing and Polymer

Since joining ERIKS in 2010, Mick has continually focussed upon building a strong team able to employ significant technical and logistical resources to deliver co...

Read full bio

Wouldn’t you like to know about a component which could help improve health and safety, and reduce the risk of environmental and product contamination? Wouldn’t you want to find out more about this component, which can also help increase yield, and ensure successful implementation of product innovations? You would? Then it’s a deal – let’s get it sealed!


Seals and gaskets are critical components of countless production assets. So it’s important to know their limitations and capabilities. For example, most seals are manufactured from elastomeric compounds, based on nitrile polymers. Despite their widespread use, they provide only a limited amount of resistance to higher temperatures and chemically aggressive environments.


So, if your application operates in an aggressive environment, you may be in danger of choosing a seal that’s not the real deal.

And an aggressive environment is not always what you might think.

When cleaning plays dirty

Even if the overall environment in your industry sector is not considered aggressive, there could be one factor you’ve overlooked: the wash-down.

This often involves fluids at high temperature which can cause certain elastomers to deteriorate over time. This can be particularly true in the food and pharmaceutical sectors. A contamination-free production environment is essential but achieving it can involve wash-downs which destroy seals.

In addition, solvent-based systems involved in processes used to manufacture active pharmaceutical ingredients, can act to destroy elastomers and the seals made from them.

But even in environments acknowledged as aggressive, you might be surprised where the challenge to seals really lies.

Highs and lows of sealing

Operating conditions in the oil and gas industry, for example, are notoriously difficult.

Take a seal on a sampling cylinder. Subjected to extremely high temperatures within a borehole, it will be formulated to cope with those conditions. But in some geographies – such as Russia or Canada – the ambient temperature of certain times of the year may be extremely low. A cylinder left outside when not in use may be affected by those low temperatures even more than the high ones.


Clearly, choosing the correct formulation of elastomers for seals is complex, but critical.

Testing your reactions

Temperature, pressure and chemicals can all cause the constituents of seals to react in different ways.

If a chemical affects the covalent bonds within the elastomers in a seal, the seal may stiffen, crumble or take a new shape – any of which will affect its sealing properties. If a chemical is soluble with the elastomers it may shrink or swell, either of which may cause leakage or product contamination through chemical elution.

With the right advice and support, you should be able to find the best seal for any of these circumstances. But then, disaster happens: you find a way to improve your process.

That’s a good thing for your productivity or cost-efficiency, of course. But what does it mean for your seals? If a new chemical is involved, how will your seals react? If temperatures or pressures involved in your process rise, will your seals remain effective?

Some supplier may suggest simply throwing money at the problem, since the premium perfluoroelastomers typically cope with most types of chemically aggressive environments.

ERIKS, on the other hand, engineer solutions which meet your sealing need in the most appropriate manner.

ERIKS’ online tools can help you to identify the materials most suitable for seals in your production environment. A comprehensive library of ERIKS brochures covering a wide range of industry sectors will provide valuable information. And highly-experienced Regionally based Technical Sales staff – plus technical experts based at the ERIKS Technology Campus – are on hand to provide advice, expertise and solutions. Plus a great deal for your seals.

Where to find out more

Sealing brochures are available for the following industry sectors:


To use ERIKS’ online tools to help you select the right seal CLICK HERE or if you have an enquiry please follow this LINK

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