Precision Ceramics has developed a tough new ceramic at the request of companies working in one of the toughest environments on the planet – at the bottom of an oil well!
This extreme environment mixes temperature and pressure in a corrosive chemical soup. Add into this the cost and time of well closure to install these parts and the benefits had to be significant over existing solutions.
Companies had previously used tungsten carbide but had moved to Yttria Zirconia to overcome some of the corrosion issues. This then moved to include a hipping process to the Yttria Zirconia as the ultimate solution, the result, CeramaZirc Ultra Tough.
This new tough ceramic maintains the key benefits of a Hipped Yttria Zirconia whilst improving two key areas; Firstly hydrothermal ageing where over time and at elevated temperatures Yttria Zirconia can slowly change in the presence of moisture, a slow process but it can change the strengths of the component. Secondly and more importantly fracture toughness.
The replacement of Yttria with Cerria slows the hydrothermal ageing process considerably whilst maintaining the other key properties. The fracture toughness improvement is by far the biggest game changer with Yttria Hipped Zirconia having typical values of K1c [MPa/m2] = 8. Ceramazirc Ultra Tough has a massively improved fracture toughness value of K1c [MPa/m2] = 17 over doubling the previous value.
The benefits of Ceramazirc Ultra Tough, luckily were evident not only to the oil industry which at this time is suffering from over supply and low oil prices, but to other areas keen to exploit the material’s improvements such as pumps, homogenisers, valve seats and spindles, ball valves and spacers.
Considering the original application, Precision Ceramics designed this material for, it is now being considered for some space applications where the improvements made to standard Hipped Zirconia makes Ceramazirc Ultra Tough the stand out candidate from the depths to the heights.