Which applications do ultra-low temperature ‘O’ rings suit?

Not all ‘O’ rings were created equal and some manufacturing environments demand performance well beyond the limits of standard, off-the-shelf ‘O’ rings. In fact, there are numerous industrial applications that require ultra-low temperature conditions for the safe, efficient and reliable production of end products. Here, TRP Polymer Solutions explains which applications can benefit from installing specialised ultra-low temperature ‘O’ rings.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: ‘O’ rings are important. These small but critical rubber seals are often integral to the safety of personnel, the smooth running and uptime of machinery, and overall process efficiency. In certain cases, standard ‘O’ rings simply will not do. A clear and obvious example is in ultra-low temperature applications. In such cases, it is really only ultra-low temperature ‘O’ rings that pass muster.

How ultra-low temperatures affect standard ‘O’ rings

Most elastomeric ‘O’ ring materials will contract when exposed to ultra-low temperatures (anything beyond -30 degrees Celsius). This is an issue because rubber seals by their very nature are required to deform if they are to create an effective seal. When temperatures plummet beyond the lower limits of a seal material’s operating temperature range, the seal in question will inevitably become brittle and less flexible.

The resulting hardening of the rubber makes the seal more resistant to deformation and leak paths occur. Further leaks are also likely when the rubber returns to a normal working temperature. Of course, these issues present a raft of issues for any manufacturer that regularly operates in ultra-low temperature environments. Let’s explore some of the applications and industries that can benefit from using specialised ultra-low temperature ‘O’ rings.

Ultra-low temperature ‘O’ ring applications

The following are just some of the typical applications that stand to benefit from integrating ultra-low temperature ‘O’ rings into their processes.

Highly aggressive chemical processing

Chemical processing applications require specialised chemical resistant seal materials at the best of times to maintain the safety and productivity of day-to-day manufacturing processes. Add low temperatures into the mix and the need for ultra-low temperature ‘O’ rings that maintain their seal integrity becomes imperative.

Semiconductor wafer fabrication

Semiconductor wafers are slim discs of silicon rod that form the “canvas” for complex integrated circuits. After oxygen, silicon – which is extracted from sand – is the most abundant element in nature. Manufacturing wafers involves systematic heating and cooling processes, which place extra demand on mission-critical ‘O’ rings.


Many pharmaceutical products require close temperature control and monitoring to comply with regulations and safety guidelines. If temperature-sensitive medicines, such as vaccines, aren’t stored at appropriate temperatures, they can become contaminated or ineffective. As such, refrigeration seals also need to be up to the task.

Aerospace applications

‘O’ rings are used across a variety of aerospace applications, such as gearboxes and air, oil and fuel systems. The most high-profile failure of an aerospace ‘O’ ring was the Challenger space shuttle disaster of 1986. The failure of an ‘O’ ring in the joint of a solid rocket booster is thought to have been due to unusually cold launch conditions.

Oil and gas recovery

Oil and gas applications present the most extreme conditions in which rubber seals are expected to operate. Experts agree that there is only one material that can provide critical seals with the low temperature elasticity and sour gas resistance required in many oil and gas applications, and that is ultra-low temperature FFKM.

Ultra-low temperature perfluoroelastomer (FFKM)

TRP Polymer Solutions’ expert polymer technologists have the technical know-how to formulate and manufacture ultra-low temperature ‘O’ rings. Our advanced materials are designed to reduce maintenance costs and equipment downtime by significantly improving the lifespan and performance of pumps, valves and couplings.

Our unique ultra-low temperature TRPlast™ perfluoroelastomer ‘O’ ring material, LT-45 FFKM, provides the widest possible range for dynamic sealing. Even in extreme temperatures as low as -45 °C for continuous operation. So why not make TRP Polymer Solutions your trusted supplier of choice for ultra-low temperature ‘O’ rings?

To find out more about our high-quality polymer products and manufacturing processes, or to discuss your ultra-low temperature sealing requirements in more detail, please contact TRP Polymer Solutions today on +44(0)1432 268899 or email sales@trp.co.uk.