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Effect of Molding and Machining on Neoflon CTFE M400H Polychlorotrifluoroethylene Rod Stock and Valve Seat PropertiesSince 1997 numerous fires have been reported to the Food and Drug Administration involving cylinder valves installed on medical use oxygen cylinders sold and operated within the United States. All of the cylinder valves in question had polychlorotrifluoroethylene (PCTFE) valve seats. Subsequent failure analysis showed that the main seat was the primary source of ignition. A review of the incidents involving cylinder valve fires indicated three possible ignition mechanisms: contaminant promotion, flow friction, and resonance. However, gas purity analysis showed that uncombusted, residual oxygen was within specification. Infrared and energy dispersive spectroscopy further showed that no contaminants or organic compounds were present in the remaining, uncombusted valve seat material or on seat plug surfaces. Therefore, contaminant-promoted ignition did not appear to be responsible for the failures. Observations of extruded material along the outer edge of the coined or loaded seat area produced by cylinder overuse or poppet overload led to concerns that accelerated gas flow across a deformed seat surface could generate enough localized heating to ignite the polymeric seat. Low molecular weight or highly amorphous quick-quenched PCTFE grades might be expected to be especially prone to this type of deformation. Such a failure mechanism has been described as flow friction; however, the corresponding mechanistic parameters are poorly understood. Subsequent revelation of low-temperature dimensional instability by thermomechanical analysis (TMA) in a variety of PCTFE sheet and rod stock samples led to new concerns that PCTFE valve seats could undergo excessive expansion or contraction during service. During expansion, additional extrusion and accompanying flow friction could occur. During contraction, a gap between the seal and adjacent metal surfaces could form. Gas flowing past the gap could, in turn, lead to resonance heating and subsequent ignition as described in ASTM Guide for Evaluation Nonmetallic Materials for Oxygen Service (G 63). Attempts to uncover the origins of the observed dimensional instability were hindered by uncertainties about resin grade, process history, and post-process heat history introduced by machining, annealing, and sample preparation. An approach was therefore taken to monitor property changes before and after processing and machining using a single, well-characterized lot of Neoflon CTFE.1 M400H resin. A task group consisting of the current PCTFE resin supplier, two molders, and four valve seat manufacturers was formed, and phased testing on raw resin, intermediate rod stock, and finished valve seats initiated. The effect of processing and machining on the properties of PCTFE rod stock and oxygen gas cylinder valve seats was then determined. Testing focused on two types of extruded rod stock and one type of compression-molded rod stock. To accommodate valve seat manufacturer preferences for certain rod stock diameters, two representative diameters were used (4.8 mm (0.1875 in.) and 19.1 mm (0.75 in.)). To encompass a variety of possible sealing configurations, seven different valve seat types with unique geometries or machining histories were tested. The properties investigated were dimensional stability as determined by TMA, specific gravity, differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), compressive strength, zero strength time, and intrinsic viscosity. Findings are discussed in the context of polymer structure-process-property relationships whenever possible.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Waller, Jess M. (Honeywell Technology Solutions, Inc. Las Cruces, NM, United States)
Newton, Barry E. (Hull (Wendell) and Associates, Inc. Las Cruces, NM, United States)
Beeson, Harold D. (NASA White Sands Test Facility NM, United States)
Date Acquired
September 7, 2013
Publication Date
November 1, 2003
Publication Information
Publication: 5th Conference on Aerospace Materials, Processes, and Environmental Technology
Subject Category
Structural Mechanics
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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IDRelationTitle20040083973Analytic Primary5th Conference on Aerospace Materials, Processes, and Environmental Technology