You’ve probably seen dried up and cracked nitrile and neoprene gaskets. Chances are, you’ve replaced a few too! In many cases the culprit is ozone. Here we’ll explain what ozone is, how it forms and what processes/activities expose gasket materials to ozone. Then we’ll suggest materials to use if you have an ozone problem which includes UV resistant rubber sheet.
An oxygen compound
Ozone is just oxygen atoms bound together in groups of three. Its chemical symbol is O3. In nature, ozone exists only in the stratosphere, a layer of the atmosphere five to thirty miles up. However, it can be produced artificially at ground level, and those are the processes that break down nitrile and neoprene gasket materials.
Oxygen atoms react readily with other elements. That’s why iron rusts and aluminum oxidizes. O3 is even more reactive than regular O2, so oxidizes materials even faster. When it contacts gasket materials like nitrile rubber (Buna-N,) natural rubber and neoprene it changes how their polymers are crosslinked. This hardens the material, which then cracks under load.
Ozone forms in the presence of ultraviolet (UV) light and electrical sparks. Both can break the bonds between oxygen and itself and other elements to free up individual atoms. These quickly recombine as O3.
UV light is widely used for purification and disinfection. Many city water systems use UV purification and UV disinfection is widespread in the medical sector. Ozone is a natural byproduct and itself is used for purification.
Electrical sparks are common around brushed electric motors, especially those using high voltages. High voltage switchgear is another source of ozone.
UV Resistant Rubber Sheet
When choosing a gasket material for an ozone-producing environment stay away from nitrile rubber and neoprene. Instead, consider silicone and EPDM materials. These are available with similar properties to nitrile and neoprene but are less susceptible to oxidation. Other good choices are PTFE and Viton/FKM.
Talk to the UV resistant rubber sheet materials specialists
If you think ozone could be an issue in a gasket application, talk to our specialists. They’ll help you select an EDPM, silicone or other ozone-resistant material suitable for your application.