Diffusion-based swelling in elastomers under low- and high-salinity brine

Maaz Akhtar*, Sayyad Zahid Qamar, Syed Murtuza Mehdi, Ahmad Hussain

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Swelling elastomers are designed to swell when immersed into fluids like water, oil, or acid. The mechanism of swelling can be either diffusion or osmosis, initiating the imbibition of fluid inside the elastomer and progressively swelling it. Work presented here investigates diffusion as the swelling mechanism. Swelling experiments are conducted at two temperatures (room and 50°C) using water of different salinities (0.6% and 12%) as the swelling medium. Changes in volume, thickness, mass, and hardness are recorded. Measurements are taken before swelling and after 1, 2, 4, 7, 10, 16, 23, and 30 days of swelling. As expected, volume, thickness, and mass of the elastomer increase with increase in the number of swelling days, while hardness shows a decreasing trend. More variation is observed for all quantities in low-salinity brine as compared to high salinity, at both temperatures. However, density values are larger for high-salinity brine at both temperatures. Stokes–Einstein formula is used to determine the diffusion coefficients. Viscosity is measured using a Cannon–Fenske apparatus of size 50. Larger values of diffusion coefficient are found in low-salinity water at both temperatures, consistent with the higher amount of swelling and the faster swelling rate. These results and the diffusion-based approach will help in understanding the mechanics of swelling phenomenon. This work can aid in the development of new analytical and semi-analytical models that can predict seal pressure and other performance factors more accurately for applications in oil and gas wells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-84
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Elastomers and Plastics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2019


  • Swelling elastomer
  • density
  • diffusion coefficient
  • hardness
  • thickness
  • volume
  • water salinity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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