The oil and gas industry involves some of the harshest, most aggressive environments. It takes special materials to provide the performance and reliability that is demanded. PEEK is one of the materials that rises to the occasion, so in this blog post we are going to look at some of the many applications there are for PEEK in the world of oil and gas.
In the oil and gas industry, PEEK seals usually take one of these forms:
Seals made of PEEK materials are found in couplings, wellhead connectors, rotary drill bits, loading swivels, and anti-blowout seals. PEEK is also used in ball valve seats, balance piston seals, face seals, seal impeller hubs, and seal impeller eyes. Chokes, valves, and as stem packing use it, too. One of the most intense applications for seal assemblies that contain PEEK would be the face seals used at the wellhead to contain high pressure production fluids and gases.
PEEK Bearings and Bushings
Bearing grade PEEK is ideal for the extreme environments and high loadings encountered in the petroleum industry. PEEK bearings are used throughout oil and gas equipment, including plane bearings and bushings as well as anti-friction bearings. One of the major bonuses of PEEK as a bearing material is that it is self-lubricating, which means little to no maintenance is required.
PEEK Wear Components
In 2003, The API (American Petroleum Institute) included PEEK-based carbon fiber composites in its standards. PEEK is an acceptable choice when it comes to replacing metal wear components in appropriate applications. Among the benefits of PEEK as a wear component include its excellent resistance to galling and seizing.
Other Applications for PEEK
PEEK components can also be found in logging tools, surface pumps, submersible pumps, and reciprocating compressors. If we consider reciprocating compressors as an example, we would find PEEK valve plates and valve rings, motor end plates, and piston rings, rider bands, and rod packing. As mentioned earlier, PEEK labyrinth seals are also commonly used, too.
PEEK is also used in tubes, pipes, wireline, and cables. Insulating components are yet another typical application of PEEK. It also works extremely well for down hole electrical connectors.
PEEK Performs for the Oil and Gas Industry
There is good reason behind the choice of PEEK for so many petrochemical applications (even deepwater drilling and unconventional oil and gas operations). PEEK is very chemically resistant. It is one of the few polymers that can handle exposure to sour gas environments. It has an extremely high specific strength and specific stiffness. This means that the excellent strength and stiffness can be achieved with components that weight less than steel or titanium. In addition, PEEK itself does not have a significant negative environmental impact. This includes its creation, service, and end-of-life disposal. Add to that low friction, extreme temperature performance, and excellent wear properties, and you have a winning solution to many of the problems encountered in the oil and gas industry.