3M Upgrades Glass Bubble Technology for Deepwater Applications

3M announced today the development of three new grades of 3M™ Glass Bubbles for deepwater insulation and buoyancy applications -- 3M™ Glass Bubbles S42XHS, XLD3000 and XLD6000. These new products are developed with extra high strength (XHS) and extra low density (XLD) in mind to help operators meet the increasing need for materials that can survive and perform in harsh subsea environments.

New developments in hollow glass microsphere technology are helping open ever-deeper ocean regions to exploration and production. 3M's newest glass bubbles offer a three-fold advantage in strength-to-density performance over previous 3M materials. The advanced performance makes it possible to link surface facilities to longer subsea tiebacks at greater depths, or to reduce riser and flowline insulation dimensions for better placement for more efficient pipe lay operations and operating efficiencies at current depths. 3M glass bubbles have been used in subsea oil and gas applications for four decades

According to Rob Hunter, applications development specialist, 3M Oil & Gas, syntactic foam composites made with 3M glass bubbles first supported subsea applications down to approximately 5,000 feet, then to 7,500 and eventually to 10,000 feet. "3M's next-generation of glass bubbles are helping to extend the range of oil and gas production to as much as 15,000 feet below the surface," noted Hunter. "Additionally, first generation 3M hollow glass bubbles offered density and strength values of approximately 0.16g/cc at 500 psi, while these new fourth-generation 3M glass bubbles perform at the level of 0.3g/cc at 6000 psi," he continued.