Optimization of hybrid oil/water-swelling ethylene/propylene/diene monomer compounds

Patrizio Raffa*, Claudia S. P. Peixoto, Pedro F. A. da Costa, Lorenzo M. Polgar, Ana V. Machado, Philip Hough, Martin van Duin

*Corresponding author for this work

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Hybrid swell packers are rubber products capable of swelling in (saline) water and hydrocarbon oils, by exploiting the hydrocarbon diffusion properties of an nonpolar elastomer with the osmotic swelling of a water absorbent (WA). In this study, a variety of modified natural and synthetic WAs and mixtures thereof have been screened in a rubber compound with respect to swelling in decalin, demineralized, and saline water, respectively. We aimed at achieving high and fast swelling in all used media. Mixing of the various WAs in an ethylene/propylene/diene monomer (EPDM)/carbon black masterbatch at an addition level of 75 phr did not pose any problems, although it was found that the WAs did affect the sulfur vulcanization. Decalin swelling of the vulcanizates is very fast, reaching high equilibrium swelling within 1.5 days. Swelling in demineralized or saline water is much slower, with up to 300% swelling in water and up to 100% swelling in saline water. Significant leaching of the organic WA from the EPDM vulcanizates to the water phase occurs. Some combinations of WAs show synergetic effects for swelling in water. To our knowledge, such a systematic study of hybrid swelling elastomers constitutes a novelty in the open literature.

Original languageEnglish
Article number49579
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Polymer Science
Issue number48
Early online date20-Jun-2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2020


  • elastomers
  • oil and gas
  • rubber
  • swelling

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