If you or your company transports or manufactures rubber parts such as seals in a cold environment then you may find the information in this article educational and useful. The importance of understanding how temperature may affect your seal is crucial. If your seal reaches -29 °C or lower temperatures then your seal may not recover. This can lead to the seal expanding and breaking or a leakage. What you might want to know is can rubber freeze?
Can Rubber Freeze?
The technical answer is, no, rubber cannot freeze but it does get hard and brittle. The scientific definition of to freeze involves a phase shift of liquid into solid forming crystals. This phase occurs as a result of the temperature reaching the freezing point of the substance. As rubber polymers cannot form crystalline structures, they do not freeze by definition. However, the physical property changes of rubber in low temperatures may affect the performance of your product.
Can rubber freeze in a low-temperature environment compared to a high-temperature environment?
Rubber experiences changes in properties from the temperature changes. This allows the rubber to become more elastic. Entropy and temperature are the two factors that play a critical role in whether the rubber will be stiff or flexible. If the rubber is presented in a high-temperature environment, then the long chains of polymer shorten cause the rubber to contract. While in a low-temperature environment, rubber can expand. Temperature and entropy are in a correlated relationship. Therefore, the higher the temperature is then the higher the entropy will be. Entropy is the degree of disorder in the system and tells us the possibilities of molecules being arranged. When there is a high entropy, there are fewer ways molecules can arrange themselves making it harder for the molecules to arrange in a straight line. This prevents the rubber from being able to expand due to the chemistry. Altogether, these concepts display the effects on rubber in different temperature environments.
About Coi Rubber Products
Coi Rubber Products, Inc. is a custom manufacturer of molded rubber and plastic components. Coi Rubber has over 28 years of experience in Engineering, Design, Compounding, Prototyping, and Production of molded rubber and plastics. Our capabilities include custom compounding, injection molding, compression molding, transfer molding, extrusions, rubber-to-metal bonding, insert over-molding, and more. We provide large scale production and engineering support to the Automotive, Industrial, Agriculture, Appliance, HVAC industries, and many more. Coi Rubber is IATF 16949:2016 and MBE certified.
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