Thermal and hydrolytic processes that are likely to occur when hydrocarbon and fluorocarbon elastomers are subjected to geothermal conditions are discussed. Polyhydrocarbon backbones have good chemical resistance, but many cross-links present in cured polyhydrocarbons can be hydrolyzed under geothermal conditions. Perfluorinated elastomers have excellent thermal and hydrolytic stability, although they are potentially susceptible to hydrolytic degradation. The cross-links present in cured perfluorocarbon elastomers are probably also susceptible to hydrolysis under severe conditions. It seems that improvements can be made in geothermal seals if they can be cured by processes that yield chemically stable cross-links.
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