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Environmental Testing of Polymers and Non-Metallic Materials

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As polymers are increasingly selected for deployment in harsh locations, so rises the importance of testing them in a representative environment. TWI has invested heavily in polymer-testing equipment and expertise, in order to give our Members confidence in the relevance and reliability of the findings of our research.

Our materials scientists use highly specialised tools and facilities to conduct meaningful investigations that make a real difference to our Member companies’ work. We can also advise and conduct testing to support our Members' use of cement and cement-based products including nuclear, offshore, renewables and oil and gas.

For more general information about our bespoke environmental testing services visit our aggressive environment testing page.

Unique polymer testing equipment

These tools include a bespoke, purpose-built high-pressure facility for permeation testing of polymeric materials. This versatile piece of equipment allows materials to be tested with a variety of gas mixtures, at pressures up to 650 bar and temperatures up to 250°C, and then graded in terms of performance.

We also recently acquired six large-volume autoclaves that allow us to test large components in a constantly maintained test environment; something that was previously difficult. The highly specified autoclaves were specially commissioned to advance our work in exposure testing of polymers and other materials. The largest of these autoclaves has an internal depth of 1000mm making it ideal for conditioning tubular components made from thermoplastics, fibre-reinforced composite or coated metal parts.

The controls on the autoclaves also allow the pressure to be reduced under operator control to reproduce a rapid gas decompression (RGD) event. As the pressure is reduced, the released gas can be sampled by TWI’s extensive suite of gas chromatographs, ready for analysis.

The latest addition to TWI’s equipment for environmental testing of polymers is a unique high-pressure flow loop, designed to simulate the conditions in which oil and gas equipment would operate in real-world use. Capable of circulating sour fluids meeting the criteria for ISO 23936-1:2009 at pressures up to 89barg and temperatures up to 130°C, it allows experiments to be conducted that replicate realistic field conditions in terms of flow and mass transport.

Covering the full spectrum of polymer test types

In addition to the above, we can also offer the following tests on polymers:

  • Static load: 0.5kN to 1750kN
  • Temperature: -196°C to +400°C
  • Fatigue testing: numerous machines, 0.1kN to 1000kN
  • Whole pipe creep rupture testing  (up to 80°C with a maximum pipe diameter of 315mm)
  • Ring pull test (composite pipe)
  • Short beam shear test

As well as our broad range of equipment, our extensive experience of developing custom tests, interpreting results and evaluating products means that you can depend upon the results we provide, no matter what type of polymer testing you require.

With gas-specific permeation measurement, diffusion and permeation characteristics can be measured while testing with gas mixes. Supercritical carbon dioxide testing is also available, and we can report on changes in mechanical and physical properties using techniques that include differential scanning calorimetry and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and dynamic mechanical analysis.

Where components provide a safety-critical function, we can provide estimates of service life using accelerated exposure testing. We can conduct tests on polymers using various aggressive chemicals, including acids and solvents, and can perform exposure and permeation testing with hydrogen sulphide.

Cement and concrete for specialised applications 

TWI possesses knowledge and equipment that can inform and improve Members' use of cement and cement-based materials.

Offering dependable, impartial advice

Our Members often approach us when they require a failure investigation to be carried out, knowing that we will conduct it in a manner that is completely impartial and independent of the interests of any involved parties.

We can provide personnel for the inspection of high-value qualification tests, and have experience of working with the oil and gas and construction industries on manufacturing processes for elastomer components such as flexible elements and earthquake bearings.

With our support and the results of our polymer testing, our Members have been able to consider new materials for extreme environments, in the process finding cost savings and efficiency improvements.

For more information, please email contactus@twi.co.uk.