Extreme-Performance Rubber Nanocomposites for Probing and Excavating Deep Oil Resources Using Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes


  • This work was supported by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) under the Ministry of Economy, Trade, Industry (METI) in Japan (ME, TN, HU, AM, KN, HJ), and the CLUSTER (the second stage) of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology of Japan (ME, TH, YAK, KT), and grant-in-aid for specially promoted Research from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan (no. 19002007) (ME, TH, YAK). This work was supported in part by CONACYT-México grants: 56787 (Laboratory for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Research-LINAN), 45772 (MT) and Fondo Mixto de San Luis Potosí 63001 S-3908 (MT). We acknowledge Dr. S. Iinou (MEFS Corp.) for very fruitful scientific discussion about nanotube synthesis and surface modification. Supporting Information is available online from Wiley InterScience or from the author.


The scarcity of oil resources is going to become one of the main factors threatening the stability of the global economy. To avoid an energy crisis in the future, it is essential to increase oil extraction in much deeper wells, experiencing higher temperatures and pressures. Exploring these deeper areas will demand novel and robust materials. Rubber sealants, or O-rings, are especially key components in enabling the probing and production of oil in deeper wells, so that higher temperature and pressure reservoirs are reached. In this account, it is demonstrated that carbon nanotubes homogeneously and randomly dispersed in rubber matrices, are able to generate durable sealants that operate satisfactorily at extremely high temperatures and pressures (e.g., 260 °C and 239 MPa). The key issues in these novel composites are: i) the nanotube surface-control and reactivity, ii) the used of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs)-embedded in fluorinated rubber, and iii) the formation of a cellulation structure. This rubber nanocomposite with a cellulation structure and having extreme performance leads to a balanced pressure resistance, sealing ability, thermal resistance, and durability, which can contribute to doubling the current average global oil recovery efficiency.