Precision Polymer Engineering, the leading high performance elastomer seal supplier, has unveiled a range of sealing solutions that have been specially developed for manufacturers, handlers, processors and carriers of biofuels. With both ethanol and biofuel blends presenting significant chemical and processing challenges to conventional elastomer seals, PPE’s launch of its biofuels-compatible sealing solutions will be welcomed by users of biofuels throughout the supply chain.

There are many process steps in the production and delivery of biofuels – from the manufacturing of pure ethanol and biodiesel through to its blending with conventional fuels and delivery to forecourts. Therefore conventional elastomer seal grades are unable to deliver the challenging performance specifications required.

PPE’s biofuels elastomer seals display excellent low and high temperature performance. For pump and valve manufacturers, PPE has ensured that its biocompatible seals also provide an exceptionally low compression set. Biocompatible grades with wide chemical and steam resistance have also been created to meet the particular needs of users in chemical and biodiesel processing plants. 

“Both ethanol and biodiesel blended biofuels offer real challenges to the seal manufacturer and user” comments John Kerwin, PPE’s Materials Technology Manager. “Both forms of biofuel have fundamentally different chemistry to oil-based gasoline or diesel. It is therefore critical that seal users understand the challenges and implications for the seals used in their applications. Our material scientists have developed materials with unique combinations of biofuel compatibilities and additional properties that ensure good sealability in a variety of process situations. We can also prove their effectiveness in long-term trials”.

The challenges presented by biofuels are widespread. Ethanol is a polar solvent and is not compatible with many of the elastomer grades used with gasoline – particularly at high blend ratios. Problems include excessive swelling and a deterioration of properties over the time of exposure. With biodiesel, conventional sealing materials such as NBR and FKM are both prone to damage when exposed to the alcohols and esters and acids that are present in biofuels and biofuel blends.

In order to cope with these new fuels, PPE developed innovative polymers which have been incorporated into elastomer formulations designed for the chemistries and temperatures likely to be experienced. All grades are supported by long term (12-month) immersion data that investigated the challenges presented by changing fuel chemistries over a 12-month period. These studies, carried out at PPE’s dedicated Material Characterisation Centre, demonstrated the long-term performance of each of the seals when used in a biofuel environment.

PPE’s biofuels compatible FKM range includes; V75J offering excellent chemical and steam resistance, V71C with the additional benefit of extremely low temperature sealing capability to -40°C, V74C for biodiesel applications with exceptionally low compression set and V76E which delivers a wide range of other chemical compatibilities. PPE also offers the Perlast range of FFKM which has exceptional biofuel, chemical and temperature resistance.

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