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Subsea Buoyancy Materials from Injection Moldable Glass Bubble Syntactic Polyolefin Elastomers

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000249456D
Publication Date: 2017-Feb-27
Document File: 2 page(s) / 22K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

Buoyancy modules play important roles in offshore oil and gas explorations and productions. The basic requirements for deep water buoyancy materials, in addition to light weight, are compression resistance and minimum water pickup. Therefore, many conventional low density materials, such as blown foams, aerogel, as well as gas filled canisters are not suitable for deep water buoyancy. 3M™ glass bubbles are hollow glass microspheres, which are light weight with densities ranging from 0.125 – 0.6 g/cc, and rigid to withstand hydrostatic pressures ranging from 250 – 28000 psi (1.72 – 193 MPa). They are ideal additives to be incorporated into different polymer resins to make low density syntactic foams that can resist high compressive pressures. Glass bubble syntactic epoxy foams are typically used as the matrix material to make subsea buoyancy modules. However, as thermoset resins, epoxy cure can take a fairly long time, especially for large parts such as subsea buoyancy modules. The use of thermoplastic resins to make syntactic foams through extrusion process is a much faster process compared to epoxy curing processes. However, it is challenging to incorporate high level loading of glass bubbles for syntactic foams with densities less than 0.6 g/cc. In the disclosed invention, a method to prepare thermoplastic buoyancy materials is demonstrated. The method can provide highly efficient way to produce subsea buoyancy materials with densities from 0.4 to 0.6 and with pressure resistance passing 30 MPa.

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Subsea Buoyancy Materials from Injection Moldable Glass Bubble Syntactic Polyolefin Elastomers

1. Introduction

Buoyancy modules play important roles in offshore oil and gas explorations and productions. The basic

requirements for deep water buoyancy materials, in addition to light weight, are compression resistance

and minimum water pickup. Therefore, many conventional low density materials, such as blown foams,

aerogel, as well as gas filled canisters are not suitable for deep water buoyancy. 3M™ glass bubbles are

hollow glass microspheres, which are light weight with densities ranging from 0.125 – 0.6 g/cc, and rigid to

withstand hydrostatic pressures ranging from 250 – 28000 psi (1.72 – 193 MPa). They are ideal additives

to be incorporated into different polymer resins to make low density syntactic foams that can resist high

compressive pressures. Glass bubble syntactic epoxy foams are typically used as the matrix material to

make subsea buoyancy modules. However, as thermoset resins, epoxy cure can take a fairly long time,

especially for large parts such as subsea buoyancy modules. The use of thermoplastic resins to make

syntactic foams through extrusion process is a much faster process compared to epoxy curing processes.

However, it is challenging to incorporate high level loading of glass bubbles for syntactic foams with

densities less than 0.6 g/cc.

In the disclosed invention, a method to prepare thermoplastic buoyancy materials is demonstrated. The

method can provide highly efficient way to produce subsea buoyancy materials with densities from 0.4 to

0.6 and with pressure resistance passing 30 MPa.

2. Experimental 2.1 Materials

3M™ Glass Bubbles iM16K and XLD6000 were used in this demonstration. Their typical properties are

shown in the table below.

Glass Bubbles Density, g/cc Isostatic

Strength, PSI Particle Size (D50), µm

iM16K 0.46 16000 20 XLD6000 0.30 6000 18

Engage™ 8180, a polyolefin elastomer resin (POE), was obtained from Dow Chemical Company and was

used as the thermoplastic resin matrix. Geniosil® XL10 is a vinyltrimethoxysilane from Wacker Chemical

and was used as a coupling agent between the POE and the glass bubbles. Aramid pulp was used as a

reinforcing agent. Typical aramid pulp can be obtained from E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, under

the trade name Kevlar® pulp. 2.2...