Factors to Consider when Choosing the Best Sealing for your Renewable Energy Operation
Aug 16, 2022
The renewable energy sector is growing every year with demand continuing to rise and technological advancements occurring at a rapid pace to meet the demand. Sealing for machinery and systems is important as not only does it literally help to keep the whole thing together but it also factors in massively to the overall functionality and maintenance of the renewable energy system.
When considering sealing options for the renewable energy system, it’s important to note the primary renewable energy forms are wind, hydroelectricity and geothermal. All of the afforementioned system types will present a number of different potential problems that will require adequate sealing to manage properly.
NES elastomeric sealings are developed specifically for the energy sector. This means they are extremely durable, being able to withstand extreme temperatures both low and high, high pressures and resistance to chemical damages.
It’s important to consider all the factors which the seals will impact or be impacted by before making a decision on which option to choose. Here are the factors to consider when choosing the best sealing for your renewable energy system.
The material compound is essentially what dictates the solution to all the other factors on this list. NES offers seals for the energy industry primarily using four different compounds, each of which have their own benefits and are uniquely suited to specific tasks.
This section is essential in offering an overvie of the seal materials available and, combined with the other factors on this list, will hopefully help determine which seals work best in which environments.
EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) are an advanced formulation of elastomer with a variety of uses across a variety of industries.
It’s worth noting that one of the major advantages of using EPDM for sealing is the compounds advanced temperature resistance. This elastomer performs amazingly in extreme temperature conditions of anywhere between -60° and 150°C which make it perfectly for renewable energy systems across the geothermal and wind sectors where extreme heat and cold respectively are unavoidable factors.
Furthermore, EPDM has a high resistance to a wide variety of chemicals and will be able to withstand the potentially detrimental effects of greases, sodium hydroxide solutions, mineral oil products, lubricants and fuels.
Made from highly fluorinated hydrocarbons, FKM is a copolymer with advanced resistance to ozone and atmospheric pressures as well as a range of media and general aging.
FKM is known for it’s ability to withstand pressure and high speeds as well as high temperatures. This makes FKM a good choice in systems with a lot of fast-moving, kinetic machinery.
Silicone is a highly resistant elastomer known for it’s thermal stability which is well-suited to mechanical application all across the renewable energy sector. Silicone is extremely heat-resistant and continues to function well in even the harshest climates, in temperature ranges of -73° to 260°C offering superb electrical insulation as well as sealing for high-temperature liquids.
On top of its heat-resistance, silicone is also extremely flexible hile also being durable and age-resistant. Silicone can maintain its shape and last for decades even in the harshest of temperatures.
Nitrile, or as it’s more commonly known NBR or Buna-N is a synthetic rubber composite of acrylonitrile and butadiene.
Nitrile seals are highly temperature resistant, however, most of their resistance benefits dry heat situations. That being said, nitrile seals will maintain their flexibility in high temperatures.
However, Nitrile seals have a selection of other advantages and benefits to be put to use across the renewable energy industry.
Nitrile is extremely resistant to chemicals such as oil and fuel, greases, hydraulic fluids, water and different types of alcohol. Nitrile has a lo compression set and high tensile strength as well as high resistance to abrasions.
Temperatures both low and high are common in the renewable energy sector, particularly with wind and geothermal operations respectively. When factoring in that sealing is necessary to join mechanical mechanisms together, resistance to extreme temperatures is essential.
With most wind energy systems or wind farms, the machinery will be exposed to low temperatures as well as wind and rain, as they are primarily offshore, therefore any sealing used on these will have to be durable enough to literally weather a storm with little damage.
Most geothermal energy systems are subterranean and therefore experience the opposite problem to wind systems as they will be exposed to extremely hot temperatures.
Chemicals and Potential Contaminants
When it comes to wind, humidity and moisture can cause big problems to sealing not made from a durable material. With offshore wind farms rain and sea spray is guaranteed, therefore it is essential to fit any machinery with seals capable of withstanding this contaminant.
All energy operations will reqquire use of chemicals and/or at least some exposure to contaminants, there are many seal materials that work in these situations such as silicone, FKM and nitrile.
Naturally, depending on the type of renewable energy you’re working with, different sizes will be required. Largery machinery like wind turbines will not only require larger seals but they will probably require a mix of different sizes throughout.
Size seems obvious but it’s important to consider the size you are working with as well as the seal size you need to fully guage suitability.
O-rings are probably the most common type of seal from NES. As the name suggests, these seals are circular in the shape of a ring or the letter ‘O’ and are well-suited to a myriad of different machines and systems.
Other shapes or styles include our Astra seals and precision moulded products. We also offer bespoke seals custom made to fit any machine perfectly alongside our traditional range of products.