Beyond Omniseal® Blog

Get Ready To Take Off By Car, Airplane & Rocket: Polymer Solutions “Moving” Us in Space, Aerospace, & Automotive

Jun 21, 2019 / by Rebecca Phan

As the summer starts to heat up, people across the world take this opportunity to travel – many going on memorable road and airplane trips – like our teams who are “moving” to several key spots to showcase how innovative and critical seals and polymer solutions are when being used in core systems for automotive, aerospace and space industries that keep us all mobile. We have a prime seat reserved just for you so buckle up and join us on this exciting journey!  See if you can “spy” some of the ways our critical parts are making THE difference in cars, helicopters, airplanes and rockets.

First up … hot off the Industrial Valve Summit in Italy where our oil and gas team dug deep to support customers … soar with us 1,400 miles southwest to where we headed next: The International Paris Air Show, the world's largest aviation and space industry event, at the Exhibition Center of Le Bourget, France, from June 17 to June 23.

What did we showcase? With over 50 years of supplying critical components in commercial and military aircraft and launch vehicle applications, Saint-Gobain Seals highlighted OmniSeal®Rulon® and Meldin® seals and polymer products. We were honored to share how the products were a part of historical milestones such as the Space Shuttle, International Space Station, Mars Rover Curiosity and soon-to-be Space Launch System along with present-day developments in commercial and military aircraft. We were also excited to share how the acquisitions of HyComp LLC and American Seal & Engineering, who provide composites and metal sealing solutions respectively, address the needs of aerospace and space Tier 1s and OEMs for a full range of parts and co-engineering capabilities. 

Get Ready For Takeoff! Polymers That Power Aerospace

Saint-Gobain Seals’ seals and polymer solutions are the power behind aerospace. Let’s uncover some of the unique ways these critical parts are enabling innovation to take flight.

What is it that we “spy” now?  Something in …

Auxiliary Power (APU) solutions that power electricity while on the ground before actual engines ignite. OmniSeal® spring-energized and rotary lip seals are used in the turbine shaft, air inlet vane, internal, and accessory gearbox and accessory drive shaft and units. These seals address long wear and tear and are compatible with a wide variety of particulates, contaminants and droplets in ground air applications.

High-temperature, lightweight Meldin® parts often simultaneously replace metal components in APUs to ensure tolerance control and significantly reduce weight.

Gas engine turbines firing up. OmniSeal® seals address high temperatures and other challenges elastomer sealing solutions cannot. These spring-actuated, pressure-assisted sealing devices (comprised of a polymer jacket and a corrosion-resistant metal spring energizer) provide a tight seal in extremely hot internal combustion engines.

In jet engines, OmniSeal® seals comprised of Fluoroloy® A90 materials in the jacket are often used to address extreme temperatures in lubrication and de-icing systems. With the move to enhance performance, efficiency and operating costs (as well as reduce emissions) in jet engines, equipment in them simultaneously needs to address higher pressures and temperatures and seals must offer superior lubrication and thermal and oxidation stability. Spring-energized seals made of Fluoroloy® A90 go beyond traditional sealing solution limits for PTFE compounds at continuous temperatures above 608°F (320°C).

In places in the engine and combustion chamber where metal technology may be a good alternative due to technical details or tighter temperature ranges, we also “spy” Saint-Gobain ASE metal C-Seals, E-Seals and custom seals in commercial, military, business, and general aviation engines and airframes.

Also in engines and in critical mechanical sub-systems, such as power generation, environmental control, fluid, landing gear, braking and actuation systems, you likely will also “spy” lightweight, yet high load/mechanical strength composites addressing some of the strongest challenges. Lightweight, self-lubricating composite parts from Saint-Gobain HyComp support the trend towards fuel efficiency in aircraft—advanced composites are projected to grow at a CAGR of 10.89% from about $21 billion to over $38 billion US from 2016 to 2022, largely from aerospace and defense, according to Markets and Markets. 

In closely working with Tier 1 customers, Saint-Gobain HyComp produces advanced composite parts that offer high strength and stiffness, in addition to withstanding high temperatures. With many engine manufacturer parts comprised of numerous components—each often having different shape, size and dimension requirements—they are experts in custom design and precise fit requirements. 

Also in actuators, OmniSeal® spring-energized and rotary seals ensure long life, low friction, dry running and stable performance (over elastomer or elastomer energized polymer seals) regardless of temperature.

In landing gear, we “spy” OmniSeal® seals and Meldin® bearings offering superior performance over conventional hydraulic seals that may succumb to wear and debris entering pressurized systems. Saint-Gobain seals offers high stability, excellent fluid pressure retention in these systems, frequently exposed to extreme cold (below -67°F or -55°C) and rapid change in altitude in flight. 

In rotorheads in helicopters – responsible for generating lift, we “spy” OmniSeal® spring-energized seals with Fluoroloy® jackets being used for their exceptional frictional and wear performance. These parts also offer flexibility and elasticity, as well as chemical compatibility with lubricating oils. 

In turboshaft solutions in helicopters and hovercraft, OmniSeal® PTFE rotary lip seals also offer exceptional sealing control and simplified installation (over carbon or magnetic seals) with speeds to 40 m/sec and even more in special cases. These seals address high power output and high reliability with lighter weight, compact design.

Get Ready To Blast Off!  Polymers That Fuel The Race To Space

A million miles away in space, in valves and pumps in payload and propulsion systems, propelled with harsh fluids, we “spy” OmniSeal® seals being used to address increasing pressures, cryogenic temperatures and harsh chemicals. They are being used in gimbals in rocket engines during engine operation to address rotary movement and high torque. 

From small to up to two meters in size, these circular, elliptical and custom shaped seals are also being used in tank joints and doors to offer the tightest seals, even with constant contact with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, and in landing gear shock-strut systems for space launchers.

OmniSeal® RACO® seals are being used in cryogenic, butterfly, anti-blow out, and POGO valves along fluid lines and joints, liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen turbo-pumps and injectors, and manifolds and ducts in propulsion systems. Bushings made of Meldin® 7000 thermoset material are replacing metal and are offering good mechanical integrity in propulsion, even at cryogenic temperatures and in contact with harsh fluids.

We also “spy” self-lubricating, low friction and low wear fluoropolymer Rulon® bearings in robotic arms, drill tools, and surface removal tools on the Mars Curiosity Rover for material sampling on the Red Planet. 

Get Ready For The Fast Lane! Polymers That Drive Electric Vehicles

Join us for our next stop, about 500 miles northeast, to the World Conference Center in Germany from July 10 to 11 for Dritev, moving transmission developers and informing innovations in the drive train world. 

Here, Saint-Gobain Seals will be highlighting how we are working with e-vehicle (EV), e-motor and e-axle manufacturers to provide critical parts to power fuel efficiency.

Global sales of new EVs surpassed a million in 2017 says McKinsey & Company, which projects that producers of these vehicles could almost quadruple that to 4.5 million units by 2020.

China is forecasted to be a leader in this space, with expectations it will sell over two million EVs this year, from 1.1 million in 2018. Additionally, new carbon-dioxide emissions standards for automobiles throughout Europe is also expected to increase EV adoption. 

With e-vehicles running at higher power—with electric motors able to run at 20,000 RPM (revolutions per minute) compared to 10,000 RPM for standard cars—seals and polymer parts in them must be able to deal with high temperature and wear.

OmniSeal® rotary lip seals perform well in hostile environments with extreme temperatures, aggressive media, high surface speeds and high pressure, even with lack of lubrication.  These parts can withstand temperatures from -53°C to +232°C (-65°F to +450°F) and pressures up to 35 bar (508 psi) and often higher.

In addition to rotary lip seals being used in these high-speed applications, we also “spy” Meldin® polymer materials offering a lighter weight alternative, with the growing trend toward smaller parts in automotive, reducing wear and providing a high level of precision in braking systems in autonomous vehicles and traditional automobiles. Meldin® thermoplastics offers less hysteresis (or lag) in helping to control pressure in the brake system, preventing wheels from locking up and maintaining stability.

We next “spy” ball joints offering smooth steering and suspension, and a quieter, more comfortable ride (with the average person estimated to spend about 38,000 hours driving a car according to Harvard Health Watch). These critical parts help to ensure suspension is applied in controlled increments and that there is less wear on tire treads.

Saint-Gobain rotary seals are used in clutches, oil pumps, and variable valve train applications in engines and all types of transmissions—from planetary automatic transmissions, to continuous variable transmissions, dual clutch transmissions, dedicated hybrid transmission and more. Meldin® rectangular seals are even used in transmissions for high-end sport cars that must withstand high engine speeds and temperatures reaching 302-338° F (150-170°C) and pressure tolerances. These seals are relied on to ensure durability and lifetime service, as well as a secure precise fit to minimize oil leakage and increase fuel efficiency. 

These are just a few of the ways seals and other polymer critical parts from Saint-Gobain Seals are making THE difference and “moving” us throughout our daily life.  We hope you enjoyed traveling with us on the road, in the skies and in space — we would be happy to see you again at our next destination — or contact us to talk to one of our experts.

Topics: Education, Aviation, Space, Automotive

Rebecca Phan

Written by Rebecca Phan