Many rubber or silicone products come into regular contact with ozone gas while in service. Ozone exposure testing is a highly effective tool for predicting the material’s response. Understanding a rubber product’s ozone resistance helps ensure the safety and satisfaction of end users and is critical to the quality assurance process.

What is Ozone?

Ozone is a naturally occurring gas. It is odorless and colorless and can be found throughout the earth’s atmosphere. Ozone concentration is much higher near the ozone layer, which is 10-25 miles above the surface of the earth, and much lower in the air we breathe.

What’s the Purpose of Ozone Exposure Testing?

Ozone testing is conducted to predict how a material will react to prolonged or repeated exposure to ozone gas. For example, ozone degradation occurs when traces of ozone in the air attack double bonds in rubber chains. This effect is most common in natural rubber, polybutadiene, styrene-butadiene rubber and nitrile rubber due to their double bonds. Ozone testing labs use ozone exposure tests to see how resistant a rubber or elastomer product is to this type of ozone attack.

Accelerated ozone aging is also beneficial—and often required—for quality assurance testing, research and development, failure analysis, and competitor product investigation.

How Does Ozone Exposure Testing Work?

Ozone exposure testing is conducted inside specialized ozone testing chambers. Precise instrumentation and tight environmental controls enable technicians to simulate a highly specific ozone environment within the chamber, based on test specifications or the test sample’s intended service environment.

Over a designated period of time, whether that’s hours or days, technicians will closely observe the material’s behavior and any changes that may occur. For example, a material that cannot withstand the conditions inside the ozone chamber will crack at the surface or break in two. If this happens earlier than expected or intended, a rubber expert can analyze the specimen and help the manufacturer determine a solution.

In many cases, ozone chambers are programmed to simulate long-term ozone exposure at an accelerated pace, allowing technicians to recreate years of exposure in just days or weeks. This type of testing, called accelerated aging, is an extremely efficient way to predict the lifespan of the material.

Polymer & Rubber Testing

Many polymer and rubber materials are subjected to ozone exposure testing, especially those intended for use in the automotive and transportation industries. Ozone testing can reveal important information about rubber quality and how well a rubber material will perform while in service.

Ozone testing provides rubber manufacturers with vital data they can use to predict the performance and lifespan of their products. Ozone testing is often combined with other testing methods, such as abrasion testing, tear resistance, and heat aging, to recreate all the elements of a material’s service environment. Manufacturers may also use ozone exposure testing data to assess the quality of rubber materials sourced from a new distributor or supplier.

ACE Laboratories is proud to provide reliable, efficient rubber testing services for manufacturers across many industries, including automotive, aerospace, construction, industrial goods, and tires.

Common standards for ozone testing

Many industry standard test specifications include ozone testing. Here are three common standards:

  • ASTM D1149: Standard Test Methods for Rubber Deterioration—Cracking in an Ozone Controlled Environment
  • ASTM D1171: Standard Test Method for Rubber Deterioration—Surface Ozone Cracking Outdoors (Triangular Specimens)
  • BS ISO 1431-1: Rubber, vulcanized or thermoplastic — Resistance to ozone cracking — Part 1: Static and dynamic strain testing

ACE Laboratories

From ozone testing to analysis under a scanning electron microscope, rubber testing laboratories like ACE Laboratories help rubber and silicone manufacturers produce top-quality products that will keep their customers satisfied and safe. Whether you’re preparing for a product launch or seeking to understand why your product didn’t last as long as you hoped, we can help you achieve your goals.

Interested in working with ACE for your rubber testing needs? Have a question about our ozone testing capabilities? Contact us today!