Materials Science and Technology of Polymers

Description: Shell logo


MSC Thesis Proposal


Project title: Optimisation of tribological performance of swellable thermo set polymers

Project Description:

Shell invented the application of swellable polymers for sealing purposes in well constructions.  Currently polymer systems exist that can swell in water, brine, water saturated gas and oil. Polymers can be tailored to react on water and/or oil leakage causing swell of the polymer matrix thereby creating a dynamic seal. In the application of this master thesis the swellable polymer will experience high compression and shear forces during the installation process of the metal components. Therefore evaluation and optimization of the tribological (friction and wear) performance of this polymer in protecting the metal components is of a great importance. The tribological performance should be optimized without compromising the longevity and swelling properties, hence the sealing properties, of the polymer matrix.

In this research project, the student will first evaluate the tribological performance of the current swellable polymers and research the fundamental mechanisms responsible for the observed tribological performance. Based on the understanding, the student will propose and realize the modification of the existing polymer to enhance the tribological performance (ideally) without compromising the sealing performance.


MSc student with sound knowledge of polymer science.
Knowledge on tribology would be advantageous but not a pre-requisite.


Rihard Pasaribu, Erik Cornelissen, Jip Van Eijden

Shell Wells research, Rijswijk, The Netherlands.