Mechanical testing and characterization of a swelling elastomer

S. Z. Qamar*, S. A. Al-Hiddabi, T. Pervez, F. Marketz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Elastomers are being increasingly used for sealing and other applications in the oil and gas industry. Specifically developed elastomers possess durable properties and have the ability to withstand detrimental effects of heat, chemicals, and harsh environments. For successful modeling and simulation of various downhole processes, it is very important to determine the behavior of elastomer materials under realistic well conditions. Of special interest is the class known as swelling elastomers. This article reports some results from experiments conducted on mechanical testing and characterization of an inert (nonswelling) and a water-swelling elastomer (both belonging to the EPDM family) used for sealing purposes by a local petroleum development firm. Experiments were designed and conducted in accordance with standard ASTM test methods. Apart from regularly available testing equipment, some simple test rigs and fixtures were designed and fabricated. Elastomer behavior was tested for hardness, compression set (at different temperatures and for different periods of time), tensile set (for different periods of time), tensile properties (fracture strength and percent elongation), and swelling. In the swelling test, different sample geometries (unconfined samples and samples mounted on steel plate) were tested for a total duration of 1000 h (roughly 45 days) in salt solutions of different concentrations and at different temperatures. Results show that compression set increases with increasing temperature and testing time, while room temperature tensile set also increases with longer testing time. Compared to the inert elastomer (exhibiting nonlinear elastic behavior like normal rubbers), swelling elastomer surprisingly showed linear stress-strain response. As expected, the inert elastomer did not exhibit any change in volume, while the swelling elastomer showed significant volume/thickness increase with increasing test temperature and decreasing salt concentration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-431
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Elastomers and Plastics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Compression set
  • Hardness
  • Inert and water-swelling elastomer
  • Material characterization
  • Tensile properties
  • Tensile set
  • Thickness change
  • Volume change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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