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General Rules for Aboveground Storage Tank Design and Operation
Yacine Amrouche, Chaitali DavÈ, Kamal Gursahani, Rosabella Lee and Lisa Montemayor, KBR
Various codes and regulations dictate the specification and construction of these tanks, helping to ensure optimum design and safe operation.
ertical, aboveground atmospheric-pressure storage tanks are commonly used in processing facilities. By deﬁnition, an atmospheric tank has a design pressure less than 2.5 psig (1). Atmospheric tanks can be equipped with a ﬁxed roof or a ﬂoating roof. A vertical, ﬁxed-roof tank consists of a cylindrical metal shell with a permanently attached roof that can be ﬂat, conical or domeshaped, among other styles. Fixed-roof tanks are used to store materials with a true vapor pressure (TVP) less than 1.5 psia. (TVP, a measure of volatility, is the equilibrium partial pressure for a liquid at 100°F.) These tanks are less expensive to construct than those with ﬂoating roofs, and are generally considered the minimum acceptable type for storing chemicals, organics and other liquids. There are two types of ﬂoating roof tanks: • External ﬂoating roof (EFR). The roof ﬂoats directly on the surface of the stored liquid (called a contact deck). The deck has a seal system attached to the roof perimeter, closing off the annular space between the roof and the tank wall. These tanks store materials with TVPs from 1.5–11 psia. • Internal ﬂoating roof (IFR) tanks have an inside ﬂoating deck, which is either a contact deck or one that rests on pontoons, and a ﬁxed roof. IFR tanks are used where there can be heavy accumulations of snow or rainwater on the ﬂoating roof. Such accumulations affect the operating buoyancy of the roof. In these cases, the vapor space above the liquid is purged with an inert gas.
Design of storage tanks Various factors play a role in the selection and design of a tank: Process considerations — One of the ﬁrst steps in selecting or designing a tank is to determine its capacity. The total capacity is the sum of the inactive (nonworking) capacity, actual or net working capacity, and the overﬁll protection capacity (ﬁgure). The inactive working (or non-working) capacity is the volume below the bottom invert of the outlet nozzle, which is normally a minimum of 10 in. above the bottom seam to avoid weld interference (2). The net working capacity is the volume between the low liquid level (LLL) and the high liquid level (HLL). For an in-process tank, the net working capacity is calculated by multiplying the required retention time of the liquid by its ﬂowrate. For large, off-site storage tanks, the net working capacity is determined by performing an economic analysis (3), including items such as the savings in bulk transportation costs, the size and frequency of shipments, and the risks of a plant shutdown. In some cases, the required net working capacity may be divided up into multiple tanks, if the size of a single tank is physically unrealistic, or if separate tanks are needed for other reasons, such as dedicated service or rundown. The overﬁll protection capacity of a tank is that between the HLL and the design liquid level. The design liquid level is set higher than the normal operating liquid level to provide a safety margin for upsets. The overﬁll section is ﬁlled with vapor under normal operating conditions.
shell and roof of storage tanks consist of steel plates that are usually lap-welded togethInert Gas FC er. Alternatively. or if product 12D tanks are shown in Table 1 (3). If this is uneconomical. or to preTable 1. A landing platform at Low Liquid Level Process TC the top of the ladder can lead to Outlet LC Non-working Capacity Cooling/ walkways extending to the center Heating of the roof. Standard capacities. Roofs and shells are Utilities Sump provided with manholes that are Optional 2-ft in dia. vent external condensation. tanks 20 ft or less in Normal Liquid Level height must be furnished with a Net Working Capacity ladder without a cage. Flare/ Atmosphere designers normally refer to industry codes. ft-in. materials used are ﬁberglass. such as those of the Design Liquid Level Overflow American Petroleum Institute Liquid Line (API) (4). inspection. determining the dimensions of the age tank design are as follows: tank and the plates used to build it. shop-welded steel tanks in nominal capacities ramic tile.cepmagazine. contamination due to corrosion cannot be tolerated. Details on such requirements are in API 650. uids. and sizing and position• “Field Welded Tanks for Storage of Production Liqing the nozzles and accessories.bearing 500 21-6 8 6 1/2 strength determine the optimal height1. Reduced heights and 1. For corrosive serof 500–10. Overfill Protection Capacity Process Storage tanks must have ladHigh Liquid Level LC Inlet ders to provide access to their top.000 55-0 24 3 1/2 be taller with smaller diameters. quirements. dimensions and design pressures for API 12D tanks (4). chillers or phase-separation equipment.000 21-6 16 6 1/2 to-diameter ratio. As available 3.. A-328) is the most cal.000 29-9 16 4 1/2 bearing capacity is limited. ed in petroleum refining and petrochemical plants are made to conform to one of the Other process design considerations include specifying API standards. To calculate plate dimensions. The key API codes for storterials of construction. Tanks taller than 20 ft require a spiral stairway.2 Capacity. corrosion-resistant materials such as rubber.000 bbl in standard sizes for production service. welded steel tanks in nominal capacities widely used material for storage tanks. The wind and seismic loadings.” API Speciﬁcation 12F — covers vertical. constructhe temperature and pressure for the tank.” API Speciﬁcation 12D — covers vertical.2 mineral wool. cylindrical. cylindriMild-quality carbon steel (A-36. Most storage tanks constructs Figure 1. then the tank material is upgraded to stainless steel or a high • “Shop Welded Tanks for Storage of Production Liqalloy. CEP December 2002 www. energy conservation. vices. personnel protection.org 55 . Nominal Outside Dia. Tanks can also be insulated for temperature control. oz./in./in.The bottom. Per API 650.000 29-9 24 4 1/2 plot space decreases and soil-bearing 5. For these instances.000 20-9 8 4 1/2 seismically active areas. and determining tion. carbon steel tanks can be lined with uids.500 29-9 24 6 1/2 wider shapes are preferred in windy or 1. tanks are designed to 10. expanded polystyrene or bbl polyurethane. Design Pressure. a suitable corrosion allowance is added to the thickStandard capacity.000 38-8 24 3 1/2 strength increases. An aboveground storage tank can have internal coils for heating or cooling the liquid. testing and maintenance rethe need for heaters. Height. They lay down certain minimum requireMechanical design — This involves specifying the maments for API certification. erection. 500 15-6 16 8 1/2 750 15-6 24 8 1/2 available space and soil. Design Vacuum. plastic or ceaboveground. aboveground. or where soil2. ft oz. These standards cover design. dimensions and design pressures of API ness of the structure.
Building Ofﬁcials and Code Administrators International (BOCA. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are the major pollutants of concern for air emissions.ul.113b. www. the TVP of the compound at storage conditions. and the International Fire Code Institute (Uniform Fire Code. Subparts K. Adequate control and proper management and maintenance are necessary to prevent releases of tank contents. and can only be used when anchor bolts are not required.com). Minimum emission-control requirements depend upon the material stored. (2) two continuous seals mounted one above the other. These include the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME. deck characteristics. There are several other organizations that publish standards on tank design. such as pressure or vacuum vents. In preparing an application for an air-quality operating permit. they are not all-inclusive.astm. www. slabs supported by piles and concrete ring-walls.html. a review of all applicable regulations must be completed. “Compilation of Air Pollutant Emission Factors. Ref.” API-42. tank loading and tank settlement are critical factors for the design of the tank foundation.5 psig. EPA has guidelines. and include emissions estimation equations developed by API. Environmental requirements Storage tanks are considered a source of air emissions due to losses of vapor (5). Low-Pressure Storage Tanks.org). its capacity. and any corrective actions taken. The software is available at www. An EPA-developed program called TANKS Version 4. Field Welded.asme. are typically used for large tanks and can withstand uplift 56 www.nfpa.gov/ttn/chief/software/tanks/index. seals. Table 2 lists examples of the different types of requirements and their basis for applicability.ifci. www. the soil conditions at the site. Environmental regulations often dictate the type of emissions-control device that must be used in a particular application.org). the holder of the permit has to follow the tests and procedures to verify the seal integrity.com).g.epa. ﬁeld-welded steel tanks for oil storage with maximum operating temperatures not greater than 200°F and pressures in the vapor space less than 2. These foundations are typically used in locations with in-situ soil conditions.5 psig. tank construction and rim-seal system. e. Information for the permit includes properties of material stored.org). concrete slabs. Steel Tank Institute (STI. Emissions-control devices include internal and external ﬂoating roofs. cylindrical. fabrication. Examples of foundation types include earth or crushed stone. taken from 40 CFR. (A shoe seal is a type of rim seal that closes the space between the ﬂoating roof rim and the tank shell. Part 60. Standards for Performance for Storage Vessels for Petroleum Liquids. ﬁeldwelded steel tanks for oil storage with maximum operating temperatures not greater than 250°F and pressures in the vapor space less than 1. tank physical characteristics. Although API standards cover many aspects of storage tank design and operation. American Water Works Association (AWWA. www. TVP. installation. estimated emissions. Part 60.bocai. www. Earth or crushed stone foundations are simply rings of material that support the tank walls. piles may needed. ulstandardsinfonet. 5 lists some of the national regulatory codes and standards used for the design of storage tanks and control of air emissions. • “Large. A concrete ring-wall is constructed by pouring a concrete mixture around the tank to support it.steeltank.nace. American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM. www. vents to ﬂares. If soil conditions are poor or the tank needs insulation. There are reporting and recordkeeping requirements for the dates that the seals are inspected.org). A concrete slab set under the entire surface area of the tank is used for tanks less than 15 ft in dia. Field Welded. or (3) a mechanical shoe seal. Ring-wall foundations are an economical way to support tanks.cepmagazine.org December 2002 CEP . www. Petroleum Equipment Institute (PEI.. • “Large.Fluids/Solids Handling of 90–500 bbl in standard sizes for production service. (NACE International. their integrity. ﬁttings. • Uninsulated tanks exposed to the sun have to be painted white or made of aluminum. Some examples of possible operating permit conditions include (5): • For storage and loading of VOCs — An internal ﬂoating deck or equivalent control must be installed in all tanks. Emissions from tanks must be addressed in obtaining the air permit. Installation of an equivalent control system requires review and approval. aboveground. Structural requirements Tank type and size. roof type. speciﬁc organics that are toxic or hazardous are also regulated. benzene.” API Standard 650 — covers vertical. inspection. and the location of the facility. In addition. and repair that supplement the API standards.” from the U.org).pei. Among these is the “New Source Performance Standards (NSPS). National Fire Protection Association (NFPA. operating conditions. vapor recovery systems (such as a thermal oxidizer or scrubber) and disposal systems. This standard sets rules for the systems to control emissions.S.) • For any tank equipped with a ﬂoating roof. Vent control measures are included in the operating air permit as permit conditions. Ka and Kb. as given in 40 CFR 60. cylindrical. The ﬂoating roof must have one of the following closure devices between the wall and the edge of the deck: (1) a liquid-mounted seal.org). Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation 40 CFR.org).com) Underwriters Laboratories (UL. aboveground. when the tank was constructed or modiﬁed. Storage Tanks.09 calculates tank emissions based on API 42 – Chapter 12 methodology. www.awwa. www. and chemical identiﬁcation.” API Standard 620 — covers vertical. that present models for estimating air emissions for organic-liquid storage tanks.
or can be put on columns to allow air circulation.000 > 65.1 > 0. leak-detection is normally accomplished by providing a ﬂexible membrane liner at grade elevation with a drainpipe under the tank. or equivalent VRS.000 > 40. or internal floating roof (IFR). When a leak occurs. the pressure on the bottom of the ringwall and tank must be equalized to prevent differential settlement of the structure.0.000 40.1 > 1. corrosivity.1 Exempt from Subpart Kb IFR with liquid-mounted seal or with mechanical shoe seal. Secondary containment is often required to prevent liquid from a leaking tank seeping into the ground and/or groundwater. 1973. or equivalent Floating roof. For example. and prior to May 18. operating weight. 1984 < 20. thereby preventing corrosion. Part 60 Subpart Ka Petroleum liquids After May 19.5 but < 11.000 > 40. The live load on the roof is typically 25 lb/ft2.1 > 11. due to operating conditions. 1978 After June 11. Further. or VRS with 95% reduction. Cathodic protection can be used to control electrochemical corrosion. or VRS. Part 60 Subpart K Materials Stored Petroleum liquids Tanks Modified or Construction Date After March 8.1 > 1. For an earth or concrete ring-wall.2 < 0.5 but < 11. 1978 Tank Size. 1974. Horizontal forces include the wind and any seismic loads.000 but < 40. cathodic protection. or equivalent External floating roof (EFR) with two seals. and prior to May 19. Most of the tanks used in chemical plants are greater than 15 ft in dia.000 forces from the tank. or equivalent VRS with 95% reduction > 40. or with vapor-mounted seal and rim-mounted secondary seal. Subpart 40 CFR. gal > 40. Long-term settling of the foundation often occurs at the edge and center.5 > 4.000 True Vapor Pressure. The engineer must consider the environmental and safety implications of leakage into the containment space below the tank ﬂoor. or vapor recovery system (VRS).000 > 65. For a concrete slab.5 but < 11. psia > 1. one or more grooves will contain the tank liquid.75 but < 11.org . which drains to the perimeter of the tank.Typical regulatory requirements for storage tanks (5).000 40 CFR. This method uses direct current from an external source to oppose the discharge current from the metal surface. or EFR with two seals. Additional considerations Other items that need to be considered for the foundation are leak detection systems. Heat from the sun can pressurize the vapor. Cryogenic tanks require cable heating systems to avoid frost heave. The tank is subjected to an internal pressure during operating or test conditions.1 Control Requirements Floating roof. Even a tank that has no liquid in it can still be under pressure.000 but < 40. This can be achieved by either building dikes 57 CEP December 2002 www. test weight and internal pressure. or equivalent VRS. metal tanks that store ﬂammable liquids are grounded as a protection against lightning or static electricity.000 20. a tank that held a volatile compound can still have vapor in it after being drained.000 > 11.1 Any < 2. based on API codes (620 and 650). live load.000 20.1 > 11. with corrections made for speciﬁc gravities greater than 1. or VRS with 95% reduction or equivalent VRS with 95% reduction or equivalent 20. 1978 40 CFR. Estimates of the vertical and horizontal loads of the tank are required for foundation design.000 40. and secondary containment. Part 60 Subpart Kb Volatile organic liquids After July 23.Table 2. In a ring-wall design. The test weight consists of the dead weight of the tank plus the weight of the tank full of water.cepmagazine. Vertical loads to be considered include the empty weight. The operating weight is the dead weight plus the weight of the ﬂuid. Tank settlement is a common problem with compressible soils. and commonly have ring-wall foundations.1 11.0 but < 11. leak detection can be achieved similarly or by placing radial grooves in the top of the slab that extend to the perimeter of the tank.
or when it is below the LLL to avoid cavitation of a pump. “Technical Guidance Package for Chemical Sources: Storage Tanks.. Normal operations are ﬁlling. The time it takes for the reﬂected signal to be received is used to measure the liquid height. 107–110 (Aug. “Conceptual Design of Reﬁnery Tankage. Literature Cited 1. (Deskbook). DC (1998). boil-over. deluge or foam systems. with a specialization in polymer science. 4. Houston.montemayor@halliburton. pp.. The level is then adjusted by closing or opening the appropriate valves.com). 1978). S. capacitance. (Feb.Fluids/Solids Handling with liners made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE). Montemayor holds a BS in civil engineering from Texas A&M Univ. and an MS in chemical engineering from the Univ. area. typically to an emission-control device (or to atmosphere. They send out a signal.gursahani@halliburton. lightning. over-temperature. displacer velocity or liquid-conductivity measurements. When precise level control is not required. Curb and dike containment are covered by many regulations that govern the volume.K.us/. typically through self-regulating valves.and ﬁre-monitoring devices.. which is mounted below the LLL of the tank. Control and prevention of such situations include the use of: sprays. IMPACT. of Sussex. 1981). al. 58 www. provides a continuous readout of the temperature. the vacuum that is created must be counter-balanced by the infusion of an inert gas.dave@halliburton.. Fax: (713) 753-5353. IMPACT. which is reﬂected off the liquid level. American Petroleum Institute (API). Fax: (713) 753-6097. J. et al. Burk. She is a junior level engineer with four years of experience in civil engineering and is a member of KBR’s young professional firstname.lastname@example.org). When withdrawing liquid. Fax: (281) 492-5832. E-mail: rosabella. 85 (8).” Chem.. the displaced vapor must be vented. Temperature control — A thermocouple. pp. the liquid level is maintained between the HLL and the LLL. Automatic emergency cut-offs are applied when the liquid level is at the overﬁll level to avoid overﬂow. Eng.com).amrouche@halliburton.. These devices are usually mounted on the roof of a tank. Upsets and safety — Typical upsets include overpressure. overﬂow. pressure-relief systems. TX 77002. steam coil failure and ﬁres. LISA MONTEMAYOR is a civil engineer at KBR (Phone: (713) 753-5355. Fax: (713) 753-3123. Adequate monitoring can help to ensure safety during upsets and other incidents. unexpected phase separation.. 3. or by adding concrete walls and slabs. of South Florida and is a member of the Environmental Div. Air Permits Div. Operation and control Pressure control — The design of a tank must take into account both normal operations and certain upset conditions. level. Phone: (713) 753-7028. She is a junior-level engineer with four years of experience in environmental engineering and is a member of KBR’s young professional network. et. H. Lee holds a BS degree in chemical engineering and mathematics from the Univ. Fax: (713) 753-5897. height and spacing between multiple tanks and process units. of AIChE. U. there are different feeds at different temperatures. Amrouche holds a BS in chemical engineering from the Univ.state. Mead. IMPACT. E-mail: kamal. Available at http://www. IMPACT. The venting of excess vapor or the infusion of an inert gas for all normal operating conditions is carried out automatically.” 10th ed.” Reinhold Publishing. CHAITALI DAVE` is an environmental engineer at KBR (Phone: (713) 7533572. 941–956 (1964). 24. Level control — Level-measuring devices are based on differential pressure..tnrcc. pp.cepmagazine. P. The tank temperature can be maintained by adjusting the flowrate of a cooling or heating medium in an internal coil.” Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission (TNRCC). E-mail: yacine. When ﬁlling a tank. E-mail: lisa. IMPACT. of Houston. such as nitrogen. E-mail: chaitali. or there is a heating coil. Washington. Dave’ holds a BS in chemical engineering from the Univ. She is a juniorlevel engineer with four years of experience and is a member of KBR’s young professional network. Acknowledgment The authors would like to thank Ahmed Allawi. Area sumps may also be required to contain possible leakage. of Wisconsin – Madison. and ensuring proper CEP preventative maintenance. along with a leak detection system. 88 (17). A major advantage of these instruments is that they can be used with corrosive liquids. Standard 650. KAMAL GURSAHANI is a process engineer at KBR (Phone: (281) 492-5787. Eng.com).” Chem. Sonar or radar level measurements have recently gained popularity. New York. Multiple measurement points are sometimes required to ensure representative temperature readings when the tank is large. ﬂoating-roof failure. He is a junior-level engineer with one year of experience and is a member of KBR’s young professional network. 5. Benson Pair and the KBR Publications Committee for their guidance and support in writing this article.com). 9–15 (April 3. “Liquid Storage in the CPI. ROSABELLA LEE is a process engineer at KBR (Phone: (713) 753-2238. static-charge buildup. Newton. or sonic. “Welded Steel Tanks for Oil Storage. YACINE AMROUCHE is a process engineer at KBR (601 Jefferson Ave. Vapor “surplus” or “deﬁcit” can also occur in an idle tank as a result of ambient temperature changes or chemical reactions taking place within the liquid inventory. through a breathing valve.. “The Encyclopedia of Chemical Process Equipment. temperature-.org December 2002 CEP . pressure-. emptying and storing. Provisions must be made for removing water or debris from the sumps. He is a junior-level engineer with two years of experience in process engineering and is a member of KBR’s young professional network. 2. 2001).tx. Gursahani holds a BS in chemical engineering from Bombay Univ. if allowed by environmental regulations). water ingress.
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