Cryogenic gaskets and cryo seals

When we talk about cryogenic operations, we’re talking about applications which operate at very low temperatures Typically, these will be at or below -190°C. These applications will often use substances like liquid nitrogen, refrigerants and hydrocarbons with low freezing points to deliver the operation. Having a suitable choice of cryogenic seal to keep these substances where they should be is crucial to the operation.

Typical cryogenic industries

We work with businesses across diverse industries which use cryogenic processes as part of their operation. These include:

  • Aerospace and defence
  • Chemical processing
  • Energy and power
  • Food and beverage
  • Pharmaceutical applications

In these types of operations, a cryogenic gasket will be necessary in order to ensure that safe and reliable performance is achieved.

Why are specialist cryogenic seals necessary?

There are a number of reasons to choose a specialist seal over a standard seal in these types of low temperature operations. These include:

  • Protection of dangerous cryogenic fluids: Depending on the type being used, cryogenic liquids can burn, can cause asphyxiation and can be toxic. Some materials can be a risk of fire and explosion too, which makes suitable protection and containment an absolute necessity.
  • Conventional orings may fail: In many cases, the working temperature of the application will be too low for standard o-rings to function properly. Very cold temperatures can lead to some elastomers reaching a glass transition state (Tg), which causes it to become less flexible and more brittle, risking failure.
  • Contraction needs to be accounted for: Expansion and contraction which occurs naturally as temperatures change can cause o-rings to become unseated, risking cracking, leaks and failure occurring.
  • Cold set must be avoided: In applications where cryogenic operations work alongside higher temperature operations, the risk of stresses on the o-ring being unable to relax at low temperatures is high when the wrong type of seal is used. Known as ‘cold set’, this will create an unviable seal, leading to leakage and failure.

In cryogenic operations, the right choice of seal is crucial. The choice will depend on the operating temperature. For example, neoprene and nitrile may fail at temperatures below -40°C, and silicone and flourosilicone by -100°C. Cryogenic operations are much lower even than this, so for operations working at extreme low temperatures, speak to our team about the Astra Seal®

We can advise you on the right type of seal for your cryogenic applications. Just get in touch with our team and we’ll be happy to share our expertise with you.