Polyurethane is the ultimate workhorse.
Whether used as a spray, foam, a flexible, spongey elastomer or a solid that is as hard and tough (almost) as any diamond, polyurethane’s versatility means it can be molded into components of any size, shape and hardness.
The oil and gas industry demands a lot from its tools,including customization in the design-build phase and ongoing reliability in the field. Polyurethane parts stand up to any punishment thrown at them, and new ones can be quickly machined as needs change or evolve.
Polyurethane pipe spacers and casing spacers are placed around pipelines in underground and subsea applications. They make a perfect case study to illustrate what we’re talking about.
Put simply, these humble components keep pipes carrying oil and gas a specific distance apart. Outside of the oil and gas industry, they’re used to hold water, sewage and electric pipelines in place. They also prevent damage to pipes and casing as they are being stored in pipe yards or transported to the field.
Pipelines protected by casing also use spacers to separate and isolate the carrier pipeline from the casing. Note: “Casing,” in this case, should not be confused with the “casing” pipe cemented in place to stabilize the wellbore during well construction.
How Spacers Work
Pipes maybe made of steel, concrete, PVC, polyethylene or plastic. Pipe spacers can be formed from various types of rubber and plastics, including polyurethane, polyethylene, PVC, carbon steel and stainless steel. Along with the product the pipe carries and the environment surrounding the pipeline the pipe’s material will determine what kind of spacers is appropriate.
Polyurethane, however, is our material of choice for the harsh environment of the oil and gas industry. When other materials often crack, break, tear, swell, abrade and deteriorate, polyurethane can stand the test of time. Metallic and plastic spacers are vulnerable to problems that can slow down operations and, ultimately, lose revenue.
Urethane VS. Metal
Urethane VS. Plastic
Urethane VS. Rubber
Chart courtesy of Anderson Development Company
Polyurethane pipe spacers can be easily formed to your precise specifications because they are castable. Complicated design and engineering are usually required to adjust metallic pipe spacers, while urethane-based materials are easily formed into exact dimensions from simple silicone molds.
Over and above giving you long-term protection against corrosion, polyurethane pipe spacers also provide electrical insulation. Currents can travel through the carrier pipe and casing into the ground, but our urethane spacers act as buffers to diffuse hazardous electricity before it comes in contact with the piping.
Old-school pipeline workers will remember skids, straps and saddles. These were primarily wooden planks fastened around the pipe. They are hard to secure to the pipeline. They are resistant to sliding and are often damaged before installation is complete.
They also require annulus space filler, such as pea gravel or sand. Because polyurethane spacers can be quickly installed and adjusted in the field, they take less time to place than those made from other materials.
Spacers slide into place with ease and usually be installed by one person. They uniformly support the weight of the carrier pipe from day one without “settling” (like sand does), so adjustments aren’t as frequently needed.
Depend on Mark
For polyurethane spacers and other custom parts, depend on Mark Tool & Rubber. We can formulate a polymer for any application and adjust its mechanical properties through chemistry. This lets you solve problems and achieve performance characteristics other materials just won’t help with.