What Is Rtv Sealant?

by John Brennan ; Updated March 16, 2018

Silicones are polymers of silicon that also include carbon, hydrogen and sometimes other elements. Room-temperature vulcanization (RTV) sealants are made of silicon polymers that become cross-linked in a reaction that takes place at room temperature.

Vulcanization

Natural rubbers are sticky and deform easily in warm conditions. Vulcanization makes rubbers more stable, or "cures" them, by introducing sulfur cross-links between adjacent polymer chains. Vulcanization ordinarily takes place at high pressures and temperatures.

Features

Unlike the vulcanization of rubber, the vulcanization process in an RTV sealant takes place at room temperature. The presence of water triggers a condensation reaction that forms cross-links between adjacent polydimethylsiloxane chains; these chains formed of silicon and oxygen atoms with two methyl groups attached to each silicon.

Effects

RTV sealant is stored in airtight squeeze tubes. When the RTV sealant is squeezed out of the tube onto a surface, the material comes in contact with moisture in the air, triggering the reaction that will cause it to cure and harden. RTV sealant is useful for a variety of applications, including sealing gaskets in cars and boats, and engine repair.

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About the Author

Based in San Diego, John Brennan has been writing about science and the environment since 2006. His articles have appeared in "Plenty," "San Diego Reader," "Santa Barbara Independent" and "East Bay Monthly." Brennan holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of California, San Diego.

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