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Patent Analysis of

Seal arrangement and method of sealing

Updated Time 12 June 2019

Patent Registration Data

Publication Number

US10001214

Application Number

US14/090307

Application Date

26 November 2013

Publication Date

19 June 2018

Current Assignee

BAKER HUGHES INCORPORATED

Original Assignee (Applicant)

ZHAO, LEI,XU, ZHIYUE

International Classification

F16J15/12,F16J15/06,F16J15/02,F16J15/10,E21B33/12

Cooperative Classification

F16J15/022,E21B33/1208,F16J15/021,F16J15/028,F16J15/068

Inventor

ZHAO, LEI,XU, ZHIYUE

Patent Images

This patent contains figures and images illustrating the invention and its embodiment.

US10001214 Seal arrangement 1 US10001214 Seal arrangement 2 US10001214 Seal arrangement 3
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Abstract

A seal arrangement includes a body having at least two walls defining a cavity, the walls are engagable with at least one structure through expansion of the body, and graphite is sealingly engaged with the body and the structure and resiliently compressively maintained within the cavity by the at least one structure.

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Claims

1. An annular seal arrangement comprising: a body supported on a tapered annular outer surface of a first structure, the body having at least two walls defining a cavity open in a radially outward direction, the body being radially outwardly expandable through movement over the tapered annular surface of the first structure, each of the at least two walls including an inclined terminal end portion configured to contact an annular inner surface of at least one second structure through outward radial expansion of the body; and expandable graphite arranged in the cavity and being constrained by the at least two walls, the expandable graphite being configured to sealingly contact the annular surface of the at least one second structure and be resiliently compressively maintained within the cavity by a compressive force between the body and the at least one structure applied to the expandable graphite, and wherein the expandable graphite is capable of thermal expansion to generate loading against the at least one second structure.

2. The seal arrangement of claim 1, wherein a compressed resilient member other than the expandable graphite is configured to maintain compressive loads on the graphite.

3. The seal arrangement of claim 1, wherein the expandable graphite is capable of deforming into sealing engagement with the at least one second structure.

4. The seal arrangement of claim 3, wherein the expandable graphite is capable of plastic deformation.

5. The seal arrangement of claim 1, wherein engagement between the body and the at least one second structure prevents the expandable graphite from escaping from the cavity.

6. The seal arrangement of claim 5, wherein a volume of the cavity is capable of increasing when the body is engaged with the at least one second structure.

7. The seal arrangement of claim 1, wherein the expandable graphite is capable of volumetric expansion in a range of about 50% to 200%.

8. The seal arrangement of claim 1, wherein the expandable graphite sealably engages with the first and second structures.

9. The seal arrangement of claim 1, wherein the expandable graphite is in the form of a plurality of slabs.

10. The seal arrangement of claim 9, wherein the plurality of slabs are stacked perimetrically adjacent to one another.

11. The seal arrangement of claim 9, wherein the plurality of slabs have an initial shape that is substantially trapezoidal in cross section.

12. The seal arrangement of claim 1, wherein the at least two walls define a U-shape cross-section of the body.

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Claim Tree

  • 1
    1. An annular seal arrangement comprising:
    • a body supported on a tapered annular outer surface of a first structure, the body having at least two walls defining a cavity open in a radially outward direction, the body being radially outwardly expandable through movement over the tapered annular surface of the first structure, each of the at least two walls including an inclined terminal end portion configured to contact an annular inner surface of at least one second structure through outward radial expansion of the body
    • and expandable graphite arranged in the cavity and being constrained by the at least two walls, the expandable graphite being configured to sealingly contact the annular surface of the at least one second structure and be resiliently compressively maintained within the cavity by a compressive force between the body and the at least one structure applied to the expandable graphite, and wherein the expandable graphite is capable of thermal expansion to generate loading against the at least one second structure.
    • 2. The seal arrangement of claim 1, wherein
      • a compressed resilient member other than the expandable graphite is configured to maintain compressive loads on the graphite.
    • 3. The seal arrangement of claim 1, wherein
      • the expandable graphite is capable of deforming into sealing engagement with the at least one second structure.
    • 5. The seal arrangement of claim 1, wherein
      • engagement between the body and the at least one second structure prevents the expandable graphite from escaping from the cavity.
    • 7. The seal arrangement of claim 1, wherein
      • the expandable graphite is capable of volumetric expansion in a range of about 50% to 200%.
    • 8. The seal arrangement of claim 1, wherein
      • the expandable graphite sealably engages with the first and second structures.
    • 9. The seal arrangement of claim 1, wherein
      • the expandable graphite is in the form of a plurality of slabs.
    • 12. The seal arrangement of claim 1, wherein
      • the at least two walls define a U-shape cross-section of the body.
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Description

BACKGROUND

Elastomers are commonly used to seal members to one another because of their ability to seal to surfaces that are rough or include imperfections. Applications for such seals include tubular systems employed in earth formation boreholes such as in the hydrocarbon recovery and carbon dioxide sequestration industries. Such seals however can degrade at high temperatures and high pressures and in corrosive environments. Operators, therefore, are always receptive to new sealing arrangements and methods that overcome these shortcomings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

Disclosed herein is a seal arrangement. The seal arrangement includes a body having at least two walls defining a cavity, the walls are engagable with at least one structure through expansion of the body, and graphite is sealingly engaged with the body and the structure and resiliently compressively maintained within the cavity by the at least one structure.

Further disclosed herein is a method of sealing. The method includes, positioning graphite within a cavity defined by walls of a body, expanding the body, engaging at least one structure with the walls, expanding the graphite, compressing the graphite against the at least one structure and sealing the graphite to the at least one structure and the body.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The following descriptions should not be considered limiting in any way. With reference to the accompanying drawings, like elements are numbered alike:

FIG. 1 depicts a partial cross sectional view of a seal arrangement disclosed herein in a sealing position;

FIG. 2 depicts a partial cross sectional view of an embodiment of the seal arrangement of FIG. 1 in a non-sealing position;

FIG. 3 depicts a partial cross sectional view of an alternate embodiment of the seal arrangement of FIG. 1 in a non-sealing position;

FIG. 4 depicts a partial cross sectional view of an alternate seal arrangement disclosed herein;

FIG. 5 depicts a partial cross sectional view of another alternate seal arrangement disclosed herein in a non-sealing position; and

FIG. 6 depicts a partial cross sectional view of the seal arrangement of FIG. 5 in a sealing position;

FIG. 7 depicts a partial cross sectional view of an alternate embodiment of a seal arrangement disclosed herein with a portion thereof shown at a greater magnification;

FIG. 8 depicts a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of a seal arrangement disclosed with the body and outer structure removed; and

FIG. 9 depicts a perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 8 at a different position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

A detailed description of one or more embodiments of the disclosed apparatus and method are presented herein by way of exemplification and not limitation with reference to the Figures.

Referring to FIG. 1, an embodiment of a seal arrangement disclosed herein is illustrated generally at 10. The seal arrangement 10 includes expandable graphite 14 positioned within a cavity 18 in a body 22, and the graphite 14 sealably engages with a structure 26 proximate an opening 30 in the body 22. The graphite 14 is volumetrically expandable in response to specific changes in environment such as changes in temperature, for example. Volumetric expansion of the graphite 14 causes it to be forcedly engaged with walls 34 of the body 22 as well as to forcedly engage with a surface 38 of the structure 26. The graphite 14 is deformable such that it conforms to troughs 42, peaks 46 and other imperfections in the surface 38 creating a seal between the graphite 14 and the structure 26 in the process. The graphite 14 also seals to the walls 34 of the body 22 thereby resulting in the body 22 being sealably engaged to the structure 26. The graphite 14 is configured to plastically deform at loads below where it elastically deforms. And it is the plastic deformation that allows the graphite 14 to contour to the surface 38 and form a seal therewith.

The graphite 14 in its expanded state is compressible and therefore has resiliency. This resiliency allows it to maintain loading against the body 22 and the structure 26 and maintain sealing thereto even during changes in the volume of the cavity 18. An optional second compressible member 50 can be positioned within the cavity 18 that also is resilient and therefore provides additional compressive forces to the graphite 14. Although other embodiments are contemplated, the resilient member 50 in this embodiment is a tubular shaped hoop with a compressible fluid 54 sealed therewithin. As forces on the resilient member 50 flatten the cross sectional shape that is initially round, the decrease in volume of the compressible fluid 54 causes pressure therein to resiliently increase.

Referring to FIG. 2, an embodiment of the seal arrangement 10 is illustrated at a position prior to the graphite 14 being sealingly engaged with the structure 26. In this embodiment, the structure 26 is a tubular with only a small portion of a quarter cross section being shown. The surface 38 of the structure 26 in this case is the inner radial surface of the tubular 26. A second tubular 58 is positioned radially within the structure 26 and substantially concentric with the structure 26. An outer radial surface 62 of the second tubular 58 has a ramped portion 66, which is frustoconical such that radial dimensions of the outer ramped portion 66 increase toward the right side of the Figure. The body 22, when moved rightward in the Figure, has an inner radial face 70 that engages with the surface 62 and radially expands as the rightward movement continues. Walls 74 of the body 22, which are substantially perpendicular to the face 70 in this embodiment, also grow radially as the body 22 is moved relative to the ramped portion 66. After sufficient radial growth the walls 74 engage with the surface 38 of the structure 26, thereby enclosing the cavity 18 and encasing the graphite 14 therewithin while allowing fluids or gases to escape. Volumetric expansion of the graphite 14 causes it to fill the cavity 18 and generate compressive forces against the surface 38. These compressive forces are sufficient to sealingly engage the graphite 14 with the surface 38 even when the surface 38 includes the troughs 42 and peaks 46 discussed above in reference to FIG. 1.

It should be noted that the volume of the cavity 18 increases as the radial dimensions of the body 22 increase prior to engagement of the walls 74 with the structure 26. The expansion of the graphite 14 is selected to be greater than the volumetric increase of the cavity 18 and as such the graphite 14 is able to fill the increased sized cavity 18. In fact, the graphite 14 can expand between about 50% and 200% in volume.

Referring to FIG. 3, an alternate embodiment of the seal arrangement 10 is illustrated at a position prior to the graphite 14 being sealingly engaged with the structure 26. This embodiment is similar to that of FIG. 2 with the primary difference being that the graphite 14 in this embodiment is expanded prior to the body 22 being moved up the ramped portion 66 into engagement with surface 38. In this embodiment some of the graphite 14 may be “wiped” out of the cavity 18 as the graphite 14 contacts the surface 38 prior to the walls 74 contacting the surface 38. This condition does not alter the function of the embodiment since enough of the graphite 14 will be radially compressed into the cavity 18 via contact with the surface 38 prior to engagement of the body 22 with the structure 26 to generate the resilient forces in the graphite 14 sufficient to cause the graphite 14 to seal to both the surface 38 and the body 22. Other embodiments (not shown) can incorporate elements of both FIG. 2 and FIG. 3 in that the graphite 14 can expand both before the walls 74 engage the surface 38 and after.

Referring to FIG. 4, an alternate embodiment of a seal arrangement disclosed herein is illustrated at 110. The seal arrangement 110 differs from the seal arrangement 10 in that a body 122 that defines cavity 118 containing the graphite 14 has two openings 130. One of the openings 130 faces radially outwardly in a fashion similar to that of the earlier describe embodiments, and one of the openings 130 faces radially inwardly. Resilient forces, due to the volumetric compression of the graphite 14 within the cavity 118, cause the graphite 14 to sealingly engage with the surface 38 and the outer radial surface 62 of the second tubular 58 in addition to walls 174 of a body 122. Note in this embodiment the compressive forces are generated by the graphite 14 alone since a version of the second resilient member 50 is not employed. Additionally, structural members 132 (one being shown in phantom) of the body 122 extend through the graphite 14 while holding the walls 174 a fixed distance apart without detrimentally affecting the functioning of the seal arrangement 110.

Referring to FIGS. 5 and 6, an alternate embodiment of a seal arrangement disclosed herein is illustrated at 210. The seal arrangement 210 includes two structures 226, 258 that are sealable to one another by a body 222 and the expandable graphite 14. The body 222 defines a cavity 218 that houses the graphite 14. The body 222 includes an opening 230 that is closed by engagement of walls 274 of the body 222 with a surface 238 that in this embodiment is an inner radial surface of a tubular that is the first structure 226. At least one of two frustoconically oriented legs 224 of the body 222 slidingly engage with an outer radial surface 262 of the second structure 258. Longitudinally moving ends 228 of the legs 224 toward one another causes the walls 274 to move radially outwardly until they engagably contact the surface 238, thereby enclosing the graphite 14 within the cavity 218. The graphite 14 as shown in FIG. 5 (in the non-sealing position), is already volumetrically expanded such that a portion of it extends through the opening 230 and outside of the cavity 218. Simultaneously moving both of the legs 224 can cause the graphite 14 to move radially only into contact with the surface 238 thereby avoiding any scrapping of the graphite 14 with the surface 238 that would occur if there were relative longitudinal movement therebetween during the enclosing of the cavity 218. The foregoing allows the graphite 14 to become directly radially compressed into the cavity 218 as the walls 274 become engaged with the surface 238 as illustrated in FIG. 6.

It should be noted that although the graphite 14 was expanded prior to enclosing it within the cavity 218, as evidenced by FIG. 5, the graphite 14 could be expanded after the cavity 218 has been enclosed by the surface 238 as was done in the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2.

Referring to FIG. 7, an alternate embodiment of a seal arrangement disclosed herein is illustrated at 310 in cross section with a small portion shown magnified. The primary difference between the seal arrangement 310 and those of the embodiments discussed above is that the graphite 14 in this embodiment is in the form of a plurality of slabs 316. The slabs 316 are oriented in the cavity 18, 118, 218 of the body 22, 122, 222 such that faces 320 on opposing sides of the slabs 316, across the smallest dimension of the slabs 316, abut the faces 320 on slabs 316 perimetrically adjacent thereto. Thus the slabs 316 are stacked in this manner such that they substantially fill the full 360 degrees of the cavity 18, 118, 218.

Referring to FIGS. 8 and 9, another alternate embodiment of a seal arrangement disclosed herein is illustrated at 410. The arrangement 410 is similar to the arrangement 310 with the primary difference being the shapes of slabs 416 of the graphite 14. In this embodiment opposing faces 420 do not face directly 180 degrees from one another as they did in the arrangement 310 but instead are form an angle such that a cross section taken longitudinally through one of the slabs 420 substantially forms a trapezoid. Additionally, every other one of the slabs 420 distributed along the cavity 18, 118, 218 is flipped 180 degrees relative to both its neighbors. This orientation allows the faces 420 to remain abutted to one another as the slabs are moved radially outward such as along ramped portion 466 of tubular 458, for example. Allowing the faces 420 to remain abutted while they are moved radially outwardly may allow sealing to occur between the adjacent slabs 416 with less deformation of the slabs 416.

In some embodiments disclosed herein the graphite 14 employed is expandable graphite. One example of expandable graphite usable as the graphite 14 is disclosed in copending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 14/072,016 filed Nov. 5, 2013 assigned to the same assignee as this application, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

While the invention has been described with reference to an exemplary embodiment or embodiments, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes may be made and equivalents may be substituted for elements thereof without departing from the scope of the invention. In addition, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the teachings of the invention without departing from the essential scope thereof. Therefore, it is intended that the invention not be limited to the particular embodiment disclosed as the best mode contemplated for carrying out this invention, but that the invention will include all embodiments falling within the scope of the claims. Also, in the drawings and the description, there have been disclosed exemplary embodiments of the invention and, although specific terms may have been employed, they are unless otherwise stated used in a generic and descriptive sense only and not for purposes of limitation, the scope of the invention therefore not being so limited. Moreover, the use of the terms first, second, etc. do not denote any order or importance, but rather the terms first, second, etc. are used to distinguish one element from another. Furthermore, the use of the terms a, an, etc. do not denote a limitation of quantity, but rather denote the presence of at least one of the referenced item.

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Patent Valuation

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15.0/100 Score

Market Attractiveness

It shows from an IP point of view how many competitors are active and innovations are made in the different technical fields of the company. On a company level, the market attractiveness is often also an indicator of how diversified a company is. Here we look into the commercial relevance of the market.

65.0/100 Score

Market Coverage

It shows the sizes of the market that is covered with the IP and in how many countries the IP guarantees protection. It reflects a market size that is potentially addressable with the invented technology/formulation with a legal protection which also includes a freedom to operate. Here we look into the size of the impacted market.

69.8/100 Score

Technology Quality

It shows the degree of innovation that can be derived from a company’s IP. Here we look into ease of detection, ability to design around and significance of the patented feature to the product/service.

94.0/100 Score

Assignee Score

It takes the R&D behavior of the company itself into account that results in IP. During the invention phase, larger companies are considered to assign a higher R&D budget on a certain technology field, these companies have a better influence on their market, on what is marketable and what might lead to a standard.

20.11/100 Score

Legal Score

It shows the legal strength of IP in terms of its degree of protecting effect. Here we look into claim scope, claim breadth, claim quality, stability and priority.

Citation

Patents Cited in This Cited by
Title Current Assignee Application Date Publication Date
High temperature packer for well conduits BAKER OIL TOOLS, INC. 19 December 1985 19 May 1987
Seal utilizing composites of flexible graphite particles and amorphous carbon MORGAN GUARANTY TRUST COMPANY OF NEW YORK, AS COLLATERAL AGENT 09 February 1988 02 May 1989
Compliant Plate Seals for Turbomachinery GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY 12 October 2007 21 February 2008
Flange fastening section and cooling system of flange fastening section KABUSHIKI KAISHA TOSHIBA 20 December 2010 23 June 2011
Graphite packing FISHER CONTROLS INTERNATIONAL, INC. 05 January 1996 06 August 1996
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US10001214 Seal arrangement 1 US10001214 Seal arrangement 2 US10001214 Seal arrangement 3