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FFKM Sealing Technology

Reliable Sealing? – It Depends on the Compound!

| Editor: Wolfgang Ernhofer

Volume swell of PFE 7502BZ Cpd in percent as compared to standard PO PFE- and High Temp PFE Cpd.
Volume swell of PFE 7502BZ Cpd in percent as compared to standard PO PFE- and High Temp PFE Cpd. (Picture: Dyneon)

High-Performance FFKM Sealing Technology for Pharmaceutical, Food and Beverage Industries —Chemical, Pharmaceutical, Food and Beverage industry processes can be mighty tough on seals. Their rough conditions and exacting regulations keep scientists on their toes looking for solutions to meet even more difficult demands. Perfluoroelastomers, also known as FFKMs, are establishing themselves as very useful materials in these fields.

The Pharmaceutical, Food and Beverage industries frequently use clean in place (CIP) and sterilize in place (SIP) processes today due to their resource-saving benefits, such as faster changeovers, increased output and uptime, as well as lower usage of chemicals and the prevention of toxic contamination and the minimisation of recontamination, the latter two which are necessary to ensuring safe and compliant processing. FFKMs have the ideal skill set to satisfy these sealing needs.

CIP and SIP processes may employ a number of techniques to clean and sterilise residues of bioreactors, fermenters, mix vessels and other equipment or systems, and to control bioburden and reduce endotoxin components. The processes use different combinations of heat, chemical action and turbulent flows, all of which can severely affect the longevity and performance of seals over time.

Their media are often injected water, caustic solutions, acid solutions and forced air. SIP processes frequently employ pressurized 140 °C steams or ethylene oxide. In addition, they often use high energy impinging spray for highly soiled or large diameter vessels for which a dynamic spray device may be used.

For these processes, seals must be resistant to abrasion or deterioration and their components must have a limited inclination to migrate, in order to avoid contaminating the processed medium. In addition, seal surfaces must be smooth to facilitate cleaning and sterilising.

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going

Many seal materials, such as peroxide-cured EPDM, bisphenol-cured FKM or peroxide-cured HNBR, to name a few, just don’t have the ability to stand up to the aggressive environments and agents common to the Pharmaceutical, Food and Beverage industry processes. Dyneons PFE 7502BZ Chemshield, a proprietary, black, 75 Shore A compound, does, featuring the superb chemical resistance of peroxide-cured FFKM type materials and the ability to withstand high continuous operating temperatures, even those of 275 °C.

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