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1200 Special Types of Tanks

Abstract
This section discusses several special types of tanks and the design considerations
which set these tanks apart from a standard API 650 tank. Included are: elevated
temperature tanks with a discussion of the hazards of operating these tanks
(frothover, corrosion, pluming, and internal fires); low pressure tanks; underground
tanks with a list of typical services and manufacturers; aboveground vertical nonmetallic tanks; Underwriters Laboratories (UL) tanks and sulfur tanks. The discussion
of refrigerated and rubber or plastic-lined tanks has been deferred.
Contents

Page

1210 Elevated Temperature Tanks

1200-3

1211 API 650, Appendix M


1212 Hazards of Operating Elevated Temperature Tanks
1213 Frothover
1214 Corrosion
1215 Pluming
1216 Internal Fires
1217 Other Design Considerations
1220 Low Pressure Tanks

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1221 Standards
1222 Design Consideration
1230 Underground Tanks

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1231 Environmental Considerations


1232 Typical Services
1233 Manufacturers
1234 Design
1235 Installation and Handling
1236 Cost

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1237 Company Experience


1238 Reference Documents
1240 Aboveground Vertical Nonmetallic Tanks

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1241 Molded Polyethylene Tanks


1242 Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic (FRP) Tanks
1250 Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Tanks

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1251 General
1252 Codes and Standards
1253 Design Considerations
1260 Sulfur Tanks

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1261 Past Problems


1262 Foundation
1263 Tank Bottom
1264 Bottom Heater Coil
1265 Shell
1266 Roof
1267 Insulation
1268 Miscellaneous Features
1269 Operations

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1270 Aluminum Tanks

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1280 References

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1210 Elevated Temperature Tanks


Elevated temperature tanks are tanks containing stock above 200F. This section
discusses the hazards of operating elevated temperature tanks and design changes to
standard API 650 tanks which will minimize these hazards.

1211 API 650, Appendix M


API 650, Appendix, M gives guidelines for the structural design of tanks above
200F. It does not consider the hazards and design considerations discussed in this
section.

1212 Hazards of Operating Elevated Temperature Tanks


The primary hazards of operating hot tanks are:
1.

Frothover caused by water being vaporized by the heat of the stock.

2.

Accelerated corrosion both internal and external to the tank.

3.

Pluming caused by introducing light stock into the hot tank.

4.

Internal fires caused by iron sulfide buildup and subsequent combustion when
air is introduced into the tank.

The following sections discuss these hazards in more detail along with ways to
minimize the hazards.

1213 Frothover
Definition
Frothover is the overflow of a tank occurring when entrained or bottoms water is
vaporized by the heat of the stock. This is distinct from a boilover which occurs
from a tank on fire when a heat wave reaches the bottoms water and vaporizes it.
Boilovers are not covered here but further information on them may be found in
Section 642 of the Fire Protection Manual.

Conditions Necessary for Frothover to Occur

The tank must contain stock which will froth when agitated with boiling
waterusually a viscous stock such as a heavy residuum, asphalt, or road oil.

The tank must contain water. The water can be in the form of freewater or an
emulsion layer or dissolved or entrained water in the stock. Such water may
inadvertently be introduced into a hot oil tank by one or more of the following
means:

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As condensate on the inside of the tank roof or shell from water vapor in
in-breathed air or blanketing gas.
As steam leaking from the tank heater.

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As dissolved water in the stock stream due to direct contact of the stock
with steam in a refining process.
As dissolved or entrained water introduced into the stock stream from a
leaking process heater or cooler.
As slugs of water or wet stock accumulated in extraneous piping
connections, dead ends, etc., and introduced into the stock stream during
transfers.

The temperature of the stock in the tank or entering the tank must be high
enough to boil water under the conditions in the tank.

Means must exist to transfer sufficient heat from the stock to the water to boil
it, under the conditions in the tank. Such means include:

Pumping water or water-bearing stock into hot stock in a tank.


Pumping hot stock into a tank containing a water layer, emulsion layer, or
wet stock. Pockets of water can be trapped by sediment, particularly at the
shell on coneup bottoms. There may be water in the bottom of a hot oil
tank, even when the bulk oil temperature is above the boiling point of
water, because of stratification of cooler, heavier fluid near the bottom
of the tank, and suppression of boiling by pressure of the liquid head in
the tank.
Transfer of heat by conduction or convection from a hot stock layer to a
water or water-bearing layer.

Severity of Frothover
The severity of frothovers is variable, depending upon the amount of water present
and the heat available to vaporize it. In some cases frothover may result only in
some oil being discharged through vents; in other cases, the roof of the tank may be
ruptured. In extreme cases, the release may occur with considerable violence and
the froth discharged may spread to surrounding areas.

Controlling Frothover
The following discusses ways to minimize frothover.
Minimize Water in the Tank. A hot tank must contain water to froth. This section
discusses ways to minimize sources of water at the tank. Obviously, proper
operation and maintenance of upstream units is critical to avoid process upsets or
equipment failure which could send water to a hot tank. Following are some good
procedures for preventing water from entering or accumulating in a tank.

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Insulate the tank shell to prevent condensation of water vapor unless the tank is
designed to stratify cold and hot oil layers as outlined below. Insulate the tank
roof to prevent accelerated corrosion. See Section 1214 for more details.

Avoid internal tank heaters. Consider the installation of an external tank heating
and circulating system with the oil-side pressure greater than the steam-side.
Similarly, consider making or changing process heater or cooler installations so

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that the hot oil side of heat exchange units is maintained at a higher pressure
than the wet side.

Avoid low spots and extraneous piping connections (dead ends, laterals,
alternate lines, etc.) in the piping system. Provide drains in unavoidable low
spots to eliminate settled-out water or water from hydrostatic testing. Consider
using high flash stocks as a testing medium when complete drainage of lines
cannot be assured.

Install a cone down bottom with center sump or a single slope bottom with
maximum allowable slope of 1% to 2% to prevent water from
accumulating.

Install an elbow-type bottom outlet at the shell so that water is continually


drawn off with the stock. Tanks too large in diameter for an economical single
slope design bottom should be cone down with center sump. The typical cone
down syphon outlet should be modified in accordance with Figure 1200-1.

Fig. 1200-1 Typical Syphon Outlet for Conedown Tank

Minimize the Effect of Heat Transfer in the Tank. Frothover occurs when heat
transfers between the hot stock and the water. This section discusses ways of
minimizing heat transfer.
Operate Below 200F, if Possible. Upstream and downstream plants should be
designed to operate the tank below 200F, if possible. Tanks should be operated
above 200F only if required for economic reasons or to keep the stock fluid.
Maintain Uniform Temperature Above the Boiling Point of Water. If it is necessary
to operate above 200F at any level in the tank, design facilities to ensure a uniform
tank temperature safely above the maximum possible boiling point of water under
the tank conditions. For safety, this temperature should be at least 10F above the
boiling point of water under the static pressure equivalent to a full tank. In
establishing the uniform minimum temperature at which a particular tank is to be
maintained consider the effect of fluctuations due to such factors as weather
extremes, thermometry errors, and operating upsets which may change the
temperature of stocks entering the tank. The uniform high temperature may be
reached and maintained by a combination of two or more of the following means:

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Insulating the tank shell (See Section 1214.)

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Heating and circulating the stock. Take suction on the bottom outlet line, pump
stock through an external heater and return to the tank through an insulated
externally mounted circulating line with multiple shell inlet nozzles. Shell
nozzles should have internally mounted directional nozzles designed to heat
and circulate the stock on the bottom of the tank. The tank fill system should
permit filling through the regular shell fill nozzle (hot feed) or the circulating
and heating system (cold feed).

Circulating stock by means of a shell mounted variable angle tank mixer


designed for high temperature service

Feeding and drawing the tank from connections at or very near the tank bottom

Introducing cold stock into a hot filling line at a location which will allow
thorough mixing before entering the tank

Installing Venturi-type inlet connections on the tank

Design for Stratification. If it is necessary to operate the tank at temperatures


below and above the boiling point of water under tank conditions, design an
installation which will prevent agitation of the cold stock with the hot stock
entering the tank, thereby maintaining a layer of cold stock in the tank. This cold
layer will insulate unavoidable water in the tank bottom against the hot stock layer.
An example of a satisfactory design is shown in Figure 1200-2, Schematic Layout
of Appurtenances for a Tank Operating Both Above and Below the Boiling Point of
Water. This design provides the following features:

A single slope or cone down bottom with a slope of 1% to 2% to drain all


water towards the water draw

A suction weir 3 feet above bottom

A filling swing pipe set to discharge upward not less than 5 feet above bottom

A 6-point temperature recorder to measure and record the temperatures from


the tank bottom to the 5 foot level at least 5 feet from the tank shell. In small
tanks (20 feet maximum diameter) and in insulated tanks, however, long
bayonet-type shell dial thermometers may give satisfactory temperature
readings.

In addition to fitting the tank with these features, it should be operated with the
low operational level in the range of 7 to 10 feet

Chemical Injection. Silicone anti-foaming agents sometimes reduce the hazard of


frothover. These materials, however, poison certain process catalysts, so their use in
specific cases must be thoroughly investigated.
Minimize the Effect of Frothover in Hot Oil Tanks. In locating and designing hot
oil tanks subject to frothover, attempt to minimize the effect of a frothover as
follows:

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Locate new hot oil tanks in relatively isolated positions separated from other
tanks and facilities by the maximum distance practicable. Give consideration to

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locations, if available, near non-hazardous low-lying drainage areas that could


contain major overflows.
Fig. 1200-2 Schematic Layout of Appurtenances for Tank Operating Both Above and Below the Boiling Point
of Water

Provide firewalls so that each hot oil tank is isolated from the next. Tanks of
40-feet diameter or less, however, may be suitably grouped to effect firewall
cost savings. Design the impounding basin to contain a volume at least equal to
that of the tank or tanks.
Arrange the layout of firewalls to direct possible overflow to a suitable
drainage area. Metal copings atop firewalls will turn the flow of oil back upon
itself and may be used on both tank and diversional firewalls.

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1214 Corrosion
Causes of Corrosion
Accelerated corrosion occurs in cool spots where moisture can condense. The
condensed moisture will combine with H2S or SO2 to make acid which attacks the
carbon steel. Accelerated corrosion will also occur underneath the tank bottom if
water is allowed to contact the bottom.

Ways to Minimize Internal Corrosion


Minimize internal corrosion by using the following procedures:

Install a cone down bottom with a center sump or a single slope bottom with a
bottom outlet as discussed above. This design minimizes standing water in
the tanks.

Add a protective coat to the stockside in the vapor space area. See the Coatings
Manual Quick Reference Guide for more information on internal coatings.

Insulate tank shell and roof to eliminate cold spots where moisture can
condense. See Section 130 of the Insulation and Refractory Manual for details
and specifications.

Protect the steel plate of the shell and roof from external corrosion by coating.
Inorganic zinc is recommended for hot tanks.

Design the foundation to eliminate the possibility of water contacting the


bottom.

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Avoid attaching clips, brackets, or braces to the shell that would penetrate
the insulation. Necessary insulation penetrations, such as for shell nozzles,
should be fully insulated, including valves.
Install a welded steel plate flashing on the top angle as shown in Figure
1200-3 to prevent wetting of the shell insulation behind the weatherjacket.
This prevents both internal and external corrosion.
On hot tanks, the engineer must account for thermal expansion in the
design of both the shell and roof insulation systems. The banding on the
shell weather coating must have adequate spring expansion units built in.
For roof insulation, a metallic weatherjacket system is preferred. Nonmetallic weatherjackets are generally not satisfactory for high temperature
tanks. Cracking or openings in the weatherjacket surface results in wet
insulation. Metal weather coats must be capable of adequate localized
expansion and contraction without damage. Sealants and other nonmetallic
substances must be suitable for the temperature encountered.

Do not use asphalt for the pad. A concrete ringwall with concrete pad is
the preferred design. (See Section 320.)
If piling is required, do not use wooden pilesthey do not hold up to the
heat. Concrete piles are preferred.

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Fig. 1200-3 Insulated TanksWays to Minimize External and Underside Corrosion

Avoid installing hot tanks in areas with a high water table. The heat tends
to pull the moisture up through the ground.
As with all tanks, drainage of rainwater away from the tanks and sealing
the tank bottom to the foundation are critical to prevent entry of rainwater
and humid air under the bottom.

1215 Pluming
Causes
Pluming, or visible emissions from the tank, can be caused by introducing low
specific gravity (light) stocks into a hot tank. These volatile emissions can be a
serious fire hazard if ignition sources are in the area.
The major ways light stock can be mistakenly routed to a hot tank are 1) by process
upsets or mismanifolding, or 2) by plant shutdowns and subsequent line washes.

Possible Ways to Prevent Pluming


While sound operational procedures are of utmost importance, the following design
changes can also be considered to avoid pluming:

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Install manifolds which are dedicated to the hot stock(s). All other connections
should be blinded or disconnected.

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Install temperature indicators and low temperature alarms on both ends of the
feed line to the tank. In addition to monitoring temperature changes in the line,
these indicators will also help the operators monitor line flushes.

Steam trace and insulate the line to avoid the need for flushing before shutting
down.

1216 Internal Fires


Causes
Pyrophoric iron sulfide fires can occur and are discussed in more detail in
Section 1260. Even tanks with nitrogen purge have had fires when air was
introduced through holes in the shell or roof that were hidden by insulation.

Minimizing the Possibility of Internal Fires


Consider using an inert purge with 5 to 6% oxygen to oxidize iron sulfide deposits
as they occur. The inert purge must be sized to keep a positive pressure on the tank
when the tank is being emptied at the maximum rate. This positive tank pressure
prevents air being sucked into the tank through the vacuum breakers.

1217 Other Design Considerations


Thermal Expansion Effects
The expansion of the tank as it is heated from ambient to operating temperature
must be taken into account for the following design parameters:

Foundation dimensions and design

Piping flexibility

Anchored shell connectionsneed to slot bolt holes in bottom plate to


compensate for thermal expansion

Insulation (See Section 1214)

Vacuum Breaker Design


The engineer must consider the following in sizing the vacuum breaker:

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What is the inbreathing rate caused by maximum cooling of the tank at low
levels? Multiple breakers may be necessary.

Vacuum breakers on hot tanks, especially asphalt tanks, tend to plug. The
engineer should incorporate in the design: 1) the ability to remove and clean the
vacuum breakers easily, or 2) additional breakers and emergency vacuum
pressure hatches to compensate for the loss of capacity when plugging begins.

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1220 Low Pressure Tanks


Pressure storage tanks are divided into two categories: low pressure tanks for
pressures from atmospheric to 15 psig, and pressure vessels for pressures above 15
psig. This section discusses the standards and design considerations for low pressure
tanks in such services as LPG or refrigerated ammonia. The design of pressure
vessels is covered in Section 400 of the Pressure Vessel Manual.

1221 Standards
API Standard 620, Recommended Rules for Design and Construction of Large
Welded Low Pressure Storage Tanks
API Standard 620 is used for the design and construction of tanks with low internal
pressures up to 15 psig. This Standard would not normally be used to design tanks
with small internal pressures of 2.5 psi and below, if they are cylindrical tanks with
flat bottoms. API 620 can be used to design cylindrical tanks with flat bottoms for
internal pressures above 2.5 psi. API 620 requires the design of tank shells by stress
analysis that includes the biaxial stress state, in contrast to the relatively simple
formulas and rules in API Standard 650.

API 650, Appendix F, Design of Tanks for Small Internal Pressures


API 650, Appendix F, applies to flat bottom cylindrical tanks with pressures up to
2.5 psig. Its use is discussed in more detail in Section 512.

1222 Design Consideration


General
The various elements, other than design for pressure, that are considered in the
selection and use of atmospheric storage tanks, as discussed in other sections of this
manual, are also generally applicable to low pressure storage tanks.

Shell Thickness
API Standard 620 requires using free-body diagrams to determine the summation of
forces in each component of the tank shell (API 620, Paragraph 3.10.2). Above the
maximum liquid level, only the forces resulting from the internal pressure need be
considered (API 620, Paragraph 3.3.1). Forces resulting from both the internal
pressure and the hydrostatic head of the liquid must be considered below the
maximum liquid level (API 620, Paragraph 3.3.2). Other significant loads, such as
those resulting from the support of the tank, piping connections, insulation, snow,
wind, and earthquake, should also be considered (API 620, Paragraph 3.4). Figure
1200-4 illustrates the use of a free-body diagram to determine the forces acting upon
typical tank shell components. See also Section 500 of this manual.
The minimum required thickness for each component of the shell is calculated for
the largest tensile force determined by the free-body diagram and the allowable
design stress of the steel used for construction (API 620, Paragraph 3.10.3). If the

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Fig. 1200-4 Some Typical Free-Body Diagrams for Certain Shapes of Tanks
From API 620, Fig. 3.4. Courtesy of American Petroleum Institute

free-body diagram reveals both tensile and compressive forces, the minimum
thickness required is the larger of the two thicknesses calculated to resist the tensile
force or to resist buckling by the compressive force. The capability of a tank shell
component to resist buckling under a compressive force in one direction is reduced
by the coexistence of a tensile force in another direction, and, therefore, the
allowable stress in compression is lower than that in tension. The corrosion
allowance, which can be different above and below the maximum liquid level, must
be added to the minimum required thicknesses determined for the forces in each
shell component.
A joint efficiency for weld seams is incorporated into the calculation of the
minimum thickness required for tank shell components (API 620, Paragraph
3.26.3). The joint efficiency used depends upon the extent of radiographic
inspection performed to verify the quality of construction. The weld seams in tank
shell components will normally be double-welded butt joints, and 100% joint
efficiency is permitted when full radiography of a weld seam is performed. The
joint efficiency is reduced to 85% if spot radiography is used. Lap joints are
permitted, but they cannot be properly inspected by radiography, and their joint
efficiencies are very low.

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Cylindrical, Flat Bottom Tanks


Like the requirements of API 650, API 620 Paragraph 3.11.2 requires that the
design of cylindrical tanks with flat bottoms that rest on a foundation must take into
account the uplift caused by the internal pressure acting upon the roof. However, the
uplift force of tanks designed according to API 620 will usually be greater than the
counteracting weight of the shell and roof. Anchor bolts are normally used to resist
the excess uplift force not counterbalanced by the weight (API 620, Paragraph
3.11.2.3).
If the foundation will support the weight of the tanks contents without significant
movement, the hydrostatic pressure acting on the bottom need not be considered
when determining the forces with a free-body diagram for calculating the required
thickness of the bottom (API 620, Paragraph 3.11.1).
The free-body diagram for a cylindrical tank shell with a conical or dome roof
reveals an unbalanced horizontal force at the roof-to-shell junction, as shown in
Figure 1200-5. Consequently, a discontinuity compressive stress is developed in the
roof-to-shell joint by the low internal pressure. A knuckle curvature in the roof
provides a gradual transition in stress from the roof to the shell, and is the preferred
method for resisting the compressive force. If a knuckle curvature is not employed,
a compression ring must be designed to stiffen the shell (API 620, Paragraph
3.12.4.2). Design of the compression ring is based upon providing sufficient area at
the roof-to-shell joint to withstand all of the forces in the roof and shell at the joint
that were determined by the free-body diagram (API 620, Paragraph 3.12.4.2).
Fig. 1200-5 Internal and External Structural Support From API 620. Courtesy of American
Petroleum Institute

Internal or external structural support must be provided if a tank designed for low
internal pressures could distort significantly under the various conditions of loading
that it will be subjected to in service (API 620, Paragraph 3.13.2.1). It may not be
feasible nor economical to design the tank shell to be thick enough to resist

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distortion under all possible combinations of loading that it could be subjected to,
and, therefore, additional internal and external structural support may be necessary.
API 620 does not give the methodology for designing internal or external structural
support. It requires that the structural support be designed in accordance with good
structural engineering practices (API 620, Paragraph 3.13.2.1), and that it must
maintain the tank in static equilibrium without undue elastic straining under all
combinations of loading (API 620, Paragraph 3.13.2). Consult with the CRTC Civil
and Structural Team for assistance in the structural support design.

Openings in the Shell


The rules in API Standard 620 for the design of openings in the shell of tanks
designed for low internal pressures are somewhat more stringent than those in API
Standard 650. The requirements for the reinforcement of openings (API 620, Paragraph 3.16), and the permitted details of construction (API Figure 3-7) approximate
those in ASME Code Section VIII, Division I, for pressure vessels.

Emergency Venting
The design of the roof-to-shell joint according to API 620 differs significantly from
that in API 650, Appendix F. A frangible joint that is required to fail at an internal
pressure below the maximum allowable design pressure is not permitted by API
620 to be substituted for emergency pressure relieving devices.
As discussed in Section 740, Appurtenance Design, emergency venting devices
should be sized in accordance with the requirements of NFPA No. 30, Flammable
and Combustible Liquids Code, and API Standard 2000, Venting Atmospheric and
Low Pressure Storage Tanks. These standards cover emergency venting
requirements for fire as well as other possible upset or emergency conditions, such
as polymerization, decomposition, vaporization of condensate, or self-reactivity.

1230 Underground Tanks


This section discusses the Companys experience with underground tanks, primarily in marketing facilities. It focuses on fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) tanks
because, until very recently, FRP was the standard material for buried tanks.
Currently, composite tanks are used more often than FRP tanks. Composite tanks
have double steel walls with fiberglass resin over the outer wall. Some existing steel
tanks have been retrofitted with FRP liners. The inspection and quality control
requirements discussed in Sections 1000 and 1240 also apply to this section. Underground concrete sumps and septic tanks are covered in the Civil and Structural
Manual, Appendix F.

1231 Environmental Considerations


Many state and local governments regulate the installation of underground tanks.
They require varying degrees of secondary containment, tank level monitoring, and
groundwater monitoring. It is essential that engineering and operations understand
these regulations when considering an underground tank installation.

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In areas other than Marketing Service Stations, our philosophy should be to


explore all of the other options before installing an underground storage tank.

1232 Typical Services


Underground FRP tanks have been used extensively for fuel storage. The majority
of these applications have been for gasoline storage in service stations. The obvious
advantage of fiberglass over carbon steel is that fiberglass does not corrode as a
result of adverse soil conditions or water in the tank. Federal law currently prohibits
the installation of unprotected steel tanks except in locations where the electrical
resistivity of the soil is extremely high (thus the soil is presumed to be noncorrosive). Fiberglass tanks comply with federal standards for external corrosion
protection. In addition, when properly installed, these tanks meet the requirements
of NFPA Standard No. 30, the Uniform Fire Code, and virtually all local codes
governing the storage of flammable and combustible liquids.
All FRP tanks must be compatible with the liquid stored. Marketing has test
requirements for qualifying resins. Most common fuels are readily stored safely in
FRP tanks, but some, like methanol, can break down fiberglass resins.

1233 Manufacturers
The two primary suppliers of underground FRP storage tanks are:
O/C Fiberglass
Fiberglass Tower
Toledo, Ohio 43659
(419) 248-6567
Xerxes Corporation
7901 Xerxes Avenue South
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55431
(612) 887-1890
Both manufacturers make tanks approved by Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., and
by Factory Mutual Laboratories. These tanks are available in many standard sizes
ranging from 550 to 12,000 gallons. Larger tanks can be fabricated for unique
applications.
The composite tank (also UL-approved) is supplied by:
Joor Manufacturing, Inc.
1189 Industrial Avenue
Escondido, California 92025
(619) 745-0333

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1234 Design
The standard tank (FRP or composite) is now a double-walled tank with leak
detection for the annulus. This design is used to avoid groundwater contamination
from leaks. Piping is also double walled.

1235 Installation and Handling


FRP tanks are very susceptible to impact damage. During transportation and
offloading, they must be treated with more care than would be required for steel
tanks. Handling tends to be easier since a plastic tank weighs roughly one-third as
much as a steel tank of similar capacity. To ensure that tanks have not been
damaged, they should be tested when they arrive at the site as well as after they
have been installed.
Installation of FRP tanks requires an experienced contractor. The gravel or crushed
rock which is used for bedding and backfill must be carefully placed such that there
are no voids around the tanks. Since the FRP tank relies on the rock backfill for
much of its structural strength, poor backfilling could cause a tank failure.
Installation, handling and testing of fiberglass tanks should be carried out in
accordance with the manufacturers instructions. In addition, CUSA Marketing
Operations has developed detailed specifications and instructions covering
underground FRP tanks. See Section 1238 for a list of these references.

1236 Cost
As is the case for aboveground tanks, underground FRP tanks are generally more
expensive than carbon steel tanks. However, with the requirement for external
corrosion protection of underground steel tanks, the costs are now much more
comparable.

1237 Company Experience


CUSA Marketing has extensive experience with FRP tanks for storage of motor
vehicle fuel and used oil at service stations. The first fiberglass tank at a Chevron
station was installed in 1971, and their use became widespread throughout the
seventies. By 1979, it became Company policy to install only FRP tanks in service
stations. This development is typical of the industry as a whole, for virtually every
major oil company now uses FRP tanks for underground storage of motor vehicle
fuels.
In 1982, CUSA Marketing and CRTCs Materials and Equipment Engineering Unit
developed a detailed specification covering the fabrication of underground fiberglass tanks to be used for product storage (see Section 1238). Among other things,
the specification requires that Company tanks have a greater cross-sectional wall
thickness than is standard for the industry. In addition, the tanks are lined with a
special vinyl ester resin, providing increased resistance to deterioration by alcohol
blend gasolines.

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Underground fiberglass tanks installed according to this specification have


performed well. Failures are rare, and are largely confined to early generation tanks.

1238 Reference Documents


1.

Chevron U.S.A. Inc. Marketing Operations, Underground Tank and Piping


Installation Drawings and Specifications, 81-HQ-160 through 81-HQ-178.

2.

Chevron U.S.A. Inc. Marketing Operations, Specification MO-8000, Underground Storage Tanks-Fiberglass.

3.

Chevron U.S.A. Inc. Marketing Operations, Specification MO-8010, Doublewall Steel Tank With Fiberglass Coating.

1240 Aboveground Vertical Nonmetallic Tanks


1241 Molded Polyethylene Tanks
Recommendation
Vertical, molded polyethylene tanks are generally not recommended for use. They
can be considered for temporary installations where the consequences of failure
would not be severe, and they can be used for permanent installations in smaller
sizes (up to about 200 gallons) where the Concerns and Deficiencies listed below
can be accommodated or accepted. The temperature limit for these tanks is only
100F. Because these tanks are made of a highly corrosion resistant material and are
inexpensive (less costly than metal or FRP tanks), they are tempting to use, and
have been used successfully for water treatment chemical storage.

Materials
Crosslinked polyethylene is preferred over non-crosslinked because the latter material is more prone to tearing of the shell wall.

Tank Construction
The basic polyethylene tank is produced by the rotational molding process. This
process depends on mold movement, heat, and gravity to mold a part. No pressure is
applied. In the process, hollow molds are loaded with a predetermined weight of
powder. The weight is determined by the wall thickness required. The charged mold
is put into a hot air oven or other heat source and simultaneously rotated at slow
speed (1 to 20 rpm) on two perpendicular axes. As the mold heats, the powder sticks
to the mold surface to form the part. After all the powder has completely adhered to
the mold, additional heating time causes the powder to melt and fuse together to
develop the resin properties. Parts not properly cured (crosslinked) will crack or
shatter when impacted.
Controlled heating of the mold by adding insulating material to some of its exterior
will cause the amount of powder that sticks to the mold to vary in different locations; in this way a tapered wall tank can be produced (thinner at the top than near

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the bottom). After fusing, the mold is removed from the heat source, cooled, and the
part demolded. A separate mold is required for each tank size.
Fittings. Virtually all fittings are installed in the tank after demolding. Fittings are
of the bulkhead or thru-bolted type, installed by cutting a hole in the tank. Polyethylene foam gasketing is used between the fitting and tank wall. Bulkhead fittings are
available in polypropylene or PVC; thru-bolted fittings are Type 304 or 316 stainless steel with studs and nozzle neck welded to the inside plate. The nature of the
fitting requires a threaded end; a threaded flange could be placed on it. There is no
additional tank wall thickness for opening reinforcement.
Restraints. There are no tank hold-downs molded into the tank or attached later.
For vertical tanks the recommended restraint consists of steel posts installed around
the tank with a slack cable strung between the posts.
Design calculations. Design calculations are commonly limited to wall thickness
based on hoop stress and the post/cable restraint system for wind and seismic loads;
resistance of the tank wall to buckling from seismic loads (a frequent deficiency in
FRP tanks) is not normally checked.

Concerns and Deficiencies


Wall thickness cannot be carefully controlled. It is checked on nozzle cutouts
which are usually located at only a couple of elevations.
The vendors recommended restraint system for wind and seismic loads would
allow substantial tank movement with objectionable loads on piping, tank fittings,
and the tank wall. To lessen this problem, one equipment packager designed a close
fitting restraint system of steel posts with a rolled steel band welded to the posts;
another alternative is to pour a concrete ring around the bottom of the tank and place
steel hold-downs across the top of the tank that are tied to the concrete ring.
However, even with an improved restraint system, tank diameter grows enough
between empty and full condition that piping flexibility must be carefully
considered; flexible PVC pipe or hoses have also been used.
Tank fittings of both polypropylene and PVC have external threads to
accommodate the nut that cinches the fitting against the tank wall. There are three
problems with these fittings:

July 2000

1.

Although the threads approximately match pipe threads and are intended for the
attachment of threaded pipe fittings, they are straight threads; when a pipe
fitting (which has tapered threads) is attached, there is good contact only at the
first thread of the tank fitting, which makes a weak connection and does not
seal well.

2.

Failures are chronic and premature at external threads in plastic fittings.

3.

The gasket for the tank fitting is inside the tank; you must enter the tank to
replace the gasket.

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Thru-bolted stainless steel fittings will solve the first two problems, but the piping
connection on these fittings must always be threaded because of the nature of the
fittings.
ClipsPolyethylene cannot be joined by adhesives. Therefore, piping support clips,
ladder clips, and platform clips could not be attached to the tank unless bolted
through the tank wall.
Flat, bolted-on tops always sag, so rain and wash water collects and then runs
freely into the tank through gaps around the access opening; the tank must be
entered to tighten or replace the bolts that attach the top to the tank.
Irregularities in tank molds produce offsets in the tank wall up to 5/8 inch and
noticeable hourglassing of some cylindrical sections.
Pinholes through the tank wall, the most common defect, are repaired by the
manufacturer with a hot glue gun. The material used for repairs is not defined.
Adhesives do not bond to polyethylene and are not a good repair material.
Improper cure (crosslinking) can result in poor impact resistance. Impact tests on
tank cutouts are not normally made but can be made at added cost.

Inspection
Shop inspection is not warranted on small tanks. For tanks over 500 gallons, one
shop visit for final inspection is sufficient. The Quality Assurance section of
Purchasing performs the shop inspection, which includes the following:

Visual inspection of all surfaces inside and outside for significant flaws
Dimensional check, including elevations and orientations of all fittings
Verification that tank fittings are the size and type specified
Witnessing of the hydrostatic test (may require separate visit)

1242 Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic (FRP) Tanks


Recommendation
Vertical FRP tanks can be used as a less costly alternative to high alloy or lined
carbon steel tanks for corrosive services or services where the contents of the tank
must not be contaminated with rust or mill scale. Shop fabricated tanks are
recommended. Shop facilities usually limit tank diameter to about 12 feet. Some
larger field erected FRP tanks have been built, but the Company does not have
experience with them. High alloy or lined carbon steel tanks have been used for
field erected tanks. Temperature limitations of FRP depend on the contents of the
tank and the resin used in construction; typically the upper limit is about 250F. For
many applications a complete design/construction package is warranted, as
discussed below.

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Specifications, Standards, and Design


TAM-EG-3453 is the Company specification for vertical aboveground FRP storage
tanks. It covers design, construction, and inspection requirements for FRP tanks,
including calculation procedures for determining shell thickness and hold-down
bracket design to withstand seismic and wind loads. TAM-EG-3453 refers to several
basic industry standards; the most important is API 12P. API 12P is not very stringent. TAM-EG-3453 corrects many of the shortcomings of API 12P but cannot
cover all design and construction details in depth. For this reason a complete
design/construction package should be prepared by an engineering firm with FRP
design experience for FRP tanks or equipment where:
1.

Failure would pose a significant hazard to personnel or equipment.

2.

Failure would cause substantial loss of revenue.

3.

Contents of the tank are aggressively corrosive or over 200F.

4.

The tank is subjected to internal pressure or vacuum.

In all other cases the quotation request should include:


1.

TAM-EG-3453.

2.

An outline drawing of the tank.

3.

A Tank Data Sheet TAM-DS-3453, which includes a description of tank


contents and stock properties.

4.

Standard Drawing GD-D1265, which gives standard construction details for


FRP tanks.

Tank Construction
Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic (FRP) is a composite non-homogeneous material
made of a thermosetting resin reinforced with glass fibers in various forms. Tanks
are normally made on molds that correspond to the inside surface of the tank.
Nozzles and other appurtenances are attached to the tank later, by means of overlays
of glass fiber material that is wetted with resin. The tank laminate normally consists
of an inner corrosion barrier (or liner) for corrosion resistance and a structural
layer for strength.
There are three principal methods of building the structural part of the tank wall.

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1.

Hand layup using chopped glass, often with interspersed layers of woven glass
filaments.

2.

Filament winding using continuous glass filaments with a defined helix angle;
reinforcement in the axial direction is usually provided by interspersing layers
of woven glass filaments or unidirectional filaments in the axial direction.

3.

Hoop winding using continuous glass filaments without a helix angle; this
construction always requires interspersing layers of glass for axial strength.

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For all three construction methods the glass fiber material is thoroughly saturated
with resin before or during its application.
Hoop winding is the most commonly used method for the structural part of the tank
wall since it requires the least amount of material for required hoop strength and
permits a tank shell to be built quickly with low capital expenditure for the vendors
plant equipment.
The inner corrosion barrier is applied to the mold before the structural layer and
consists of glass or synthetics to reinforce this resin rich layer (pure resin is brittle
and would crack without reinforcement). Continuous filaments or woven filaments
are never used in the inner corrosion barrier.

Concerns and Limitations


The following limitations of vertical FRP tanks should be addressed when
considering their use for service.
1.

FRP is easily damaged by impact.

2.

The inner corrosion barrier is usually 0.1-inch thick; if part of it is lost through
corrosion, erosion, or mechanical damage, rapid failure of the tank can occur by
liquid wicking along the glass filaments in the structural layer.

3.

Mating flanges must be flat faced with full face elastomeric gaskets. Flange
bolting procedures must be carefully controlled to avoid cracking flanges.

4.

Piping must usually be independently supported to avoid damage to nozzles or


nozzle/shell joints.

5.

Most FRP fabricators have limited engineering capabilities; most are unable to
make seismic or wind calculations to show that the tank wall will resist buckling and that tank hold downs are adequate (these design deficiencies are found
frequently). Most FRP tanks have a height-to-diameter ratio greater than 1, so
hold downs are almost always required for seismic forces, wind forces, or both.
TAM-EG-3453 addresses this problem, but the fabricators calculations must be
reviewed thoroughly.

6.

Extreme care must be taken in setting the tank on its foundation. A sound way
to set a tank is in cement grout that is not too stiff; then put 1 to 2 feet of water
in the tank to set it firmly into the grout. Excess grout is removed from around
the tank so that a grout dish is not formed that would collect spills and water.
Stiff grout must also be packed under hold-down lugs. The grout must be
allowed to cure before nuts on anchor bolts are tightened down. This precaution
prevents damage to the tank wall or the glass windings that fasten the lugs to
the tank.

Inspection
Since an FRP tank is a composite structure that essentially is hand made, inspection
must be done much more carefully than on a metal tank where welds are the
principal concern. It is difficult to find qualified FRP inspectors. Consequently,
inspection costs for FRP tanks will be higher than for metal tanks. The Quality

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Assurance section of Purchasing performs (or hires out) shop inspection that
includes the following.
1.

A pre-inspection meeting to review the purchase order, specifications, and our


inspection requirements.

2.

Visual inspection of the first course of the tank when it is removed from the
mold.

3.

Inspection during joining of shell courses.

4.

Inspection during installation of nozzles.

5.

Final inspection inside and outside of all surfaces (to the specified or approved
acceptance standard for flaws) when the tank is complete but prior to
application of exterior color coat. Barcol hardness tests and acetone sensitivity
tests are witnessed at this time.

6.

Inspection after application of exterior color coat.

7.

Witnessing of hydrostatic test. Hydrostatic tests are very important and, if not
obtainable in the shop, should always be done in the field before the tank is put
in service. Hydrostatic tests should be held for 8 or more hours, and all surfaces
of the tank inspected for leaks, seeps, or weeps.

1250 Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Tanks


This section covers the design and use of shop-fabricated steel tanks that meet the
Standards for Safety of Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., and are furnished by the
manufacturer with a UL label. Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., is a non-profit
organization that operates laboratories in the United States for the purpose of testing
various devices, systems, and materials for public safety.
Fiberglass reinforced plastic UL tanks, used almost exclusively for the underground
storage of products at service stations, are discussed in Section 1230.

1251 General
UL tanks are primarily intended for the atmospheric storage of non-corrosive flammable and combustible liquids. They must be fabricated and tested before being
shipped from the factory. This requirement limits their size. The maximum diameter of horizontal tanks is 12 feet and the maximum height of vertical tanks is 35
feet. The maximum capacity of a UL tank is about 1000 barrels.
Within their size limits, both horizontal and vertical steel tanks are used extensively
for aboveground storage in bulk plants. They may be acceptable for use in other
services such as small tanks in process plants. Vertical aboveground UL tanks are
frequently less expensive than the corresponding API 650, Appendix J tank, a result
both of less stringent requirements of UL standards and the standardization inherent
in UL tank designs.

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1252 Codes and Standards


Steel Tanks
The Standards for Safety published by Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., are as
follows:
1.

UL 58: Steel Underground Tanks for Flammable and Combustible Liquids.


(Also approved as ANSI B137.1).

2.

UL 142: Steel Aboveground Tanks for Flammable and Combustible Liquids.

Copies may be obtained directly from Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. Their


address is given in Section 160 of this manual.

Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic Tanks


There are, at present, no UL standards for fiberglass reinforced plastic tanks.
However, underground storage tanks fabricated of this material with a UL label are
available from some manufacturers. (See Sections 1230 and 1240.)

Other Regulations
Tanks fabricated in accordance with the above UL standards comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSHA) of the U. S. Department of Labor.
They also comply with the NFPA 30 Flammable and Combustible Liquid Code.

1253 Design Considerations


General
Design factors discussed elsewhere in this manual can be applied to UL tanks. The
existence of the UL label does not remove the need to exercise good engineering
judgment. Underwriters Laboratories only provides audit inspections of production. Unless previous experience with a manufacturer indicates that it is not needed,
limited Company inspection should also be conducted.

Material and Design Requirements


Users of UL steel tanks should recognize that the UL 58 and UL 142 Standards do
not specify material and design requirements as closely as API 650, Appendix J.
This statement is not intended to imply that UL tanks are not adequate or acceptable
for many services throughout the Company. It is mentioned only to highlight the
fact that there are different requirements that may affect the quality of the product.
The most significant of these are as follows:

Chevron Corporation

UL standards specify that the tanks shall be constructed of commercial grade


steel of good welding quality as compared to specific ASTM specifications
designated in API 650.

UL standards permit various types of lap welded shell joints in addition to a full
penetration butt welded joint, the only type of joint permitted by API 650. Lap
welded joints increase stress concentrations and are difficult to inspect for

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quality of welding. When ordering vertical aboveground UL tanks, you should


consider specifying butt welded shell joints.

Vertical UL tanks less than 10 feet in diameter do not have a frangible shell-toroof attachment. Emergency venting should be provided on these tanks. Refer
to Section 744 for guidance.

Foundations and Supports


Underground tanks must be designed to withstand ground surface loads and resist
uplift due to ground water. Typically, for steel tanks the excavated hole is padded
with 6 inches of sand, and a minimum of 3 feet of cover is provided for tanks
located under paving. Where ground water might float the tank, the most commonly
used preventive measure is to provide a concrete slab immediately above the tank.
Alternate methods are to place a concrete slab under the tank and use screw-in-type
anchors; both of these require stainless steel straps to hold down the tank.
Pier foundations or supports for aboveground horizontal tanks must be designed to
adequately support the tank. Steel supports should be fire protected. Wood supports
are not recommended and, in the United States, are forbidden by OSHA regulations.

Wind and Earthquake Stability


Refer to Section 530 and the referenced Civil and Structural Manual, Section 100,
for information on design factors that will assure that aboveground UL tanks will
resist wind and earthquake forces.

Location and Fire Protection


Refer to Section 200 for a discussion of factors to consider in choosing location and
spacing of tanks and for grounding information. Although NFPA requirements are
widely recognized, they might not always be the limiting regulation.

1260 Sulfur Tanks


This section discusses the problems the Company has had with tanks storing liquid
sulfur. It lists the design changes made to minimize these problems.

1261 Past Problems


Past problems can be grouped into three basic areas: internal corrosion, external
corrosion, and pyrophoric iron sulfide fires.

Internal Corrosion
Moisture condenses in the tank, combining with H2S and SO2 to make acid which
attacks the carbon steel. Moisture can enter the tank in the following ways:

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Through the steam smothering system


Through leaks in jacketed nozzles and lines
Through leaks in the internal steam coil

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From air with high humidity

The steam tends to condense in areas where the shell or roof metal surface is
coolest. Cool spots can be caused by inadequate or water-soaked insulation, metallic
penetrations to the shell through the insulation, or by uneven heating in the tank.

External Corrosion
Water-soaked insulation on roof and shell causes severe external corrosion. It can
also cool the metal off enough to promote internal corrosion, as mentioned above.
The water soaked insulation results from:

Leaks from roof steam coil


Poor roof sealing and flashing
Leaks from jacket nozzles
Failure of the roof weathercoat system

Pyrophoric Iron Sulfide Fires


Iron sulfide (FeS) forms on the interior metal surface in the vapor space. If it is
allowed to build up, it will spontaneously ignite in the presence of oxygen. In most
cases, an SO2 plume is the only indicator of a fire. Iron sulfide fires cause:

Weakened roof supports which can buckle the roof


Increased corrosion because smothering steam is often used to stop the fire

Iron sulfide builds up in an inert atmosphere. Our objective should be to have


sufficient air sweeping through the vapor space so that the FeS oxidizes as quickly
as it builds up.
The following sections discuss the changes which can be made to an existing sulfur
tank or added to a new tank design to prevent these three problems and extend the
tank life (approximately 10 years).

1262 Foundation

Install the tank on a concrete pad to avoid settling in the center of the tank

Install a single slope bottom with a slope of 2 inches in 10 feet. This helps
empty the tank when it is being taken out of service. Any sulfur left in the tank
usually must be hydroblasted outwhich accelerates internal corrosion.

1263 Tank Bottom

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Use butt welded plate with a 1/8-inch backing strip. Richmond used -inch
thick plate to give some corrosion allowance. The butt welded plate improves
the drainage.

Rough surfaces have been shown to be much more susceptible to pitting. El


Segundo grinds the butt welds flush and smooth, and dyechecks for porosities.

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1264 Bottom Heater Coil

A bottom coil is recommended over a bayonet heater because it provides much


more even heating of the tank.

Design the coil in multiple cells (Richmond used 4) to provide even heating.

Use 316L Schedule 40 pipe to prevent the external pitting and leaks
experienced with carbon steel.

Richmond used 2-inch pipe with rolled bends (18-inch diameter) to minimize
internal welds.

Install the coil the minimum distance from the floor that will still allow easy
drainage and cleaning. Six inches from the pipe centerline to the floor is
adequate. Minimize the height to prevent prolonged pluming when the tank is
being filled initially.

Install the outlet nozzle flush with the bottom mounted on an API 650 flushtype cleanout door. See Figure 1200-6. This arrangement helps empty the tank
and prevents damage from hydroblasting when the tank is cleaned. The outlet
nozzle must be completely encapsulated with insulation that is protected from
outside moistureespecially from ground moisture.

Be liberal with the corrosion allowance on the shell plate. Richmond used
inch.

For new tanks, minimize shell height. A large vapor space results in cooler
metal and increased corrosion at the top of the tank.

Consider a self-supporting stairway. Stairway-to-shell attachments can act like


fins cooling the metal surface and thereby accelerating corrosion.

Minimize the penetrations through the insulation. Insulate all necessary


penetrations.

1265 Shell

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Fig. 1200-6 Outlet Nozzle Configuration

1266 Roof
Corrosion Protection

Consider adding corrosion allowance above that normally required. This added
allowance increases the rafter size and gives more protection against corrosion
and damage to the roof during a fire.

If the diameter of the tank permits, install a self- supporting dome or externally
supported roof. This design allows coating of the internal surfaces of the roof,
eliminating iron sulfide corrosion.

External Roof Heater Coil

An external roof heater is needed to keep the internal surface above the
condensation temperature.

Consider using socket welded tubing, TIG welded per the Swagelock procedure. Richmond used 0.065 inch wall, 316L tubing. The alternatives are tubing
with compression fittings, which historically have leaked, or socket welded
pipe, which is more costly to install.
The other advantage of socket welded tubing is that you can put a full hydrotest
(450 psig) on it compared to only a service test for compression fittings.

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Use -inch tubing for the roof and -inch tubing with Thermon heat transfer
cement for the nozzles and vents.

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Richmond added a condensate collection header on the roof to keep the tubing
runs shorter and more effective. Each tubing run was trapped. The number of
cells depends on the length of tubing run.

1267 Insulation
Shell Insulation

Normally use 3 inches of fiberglass insulation with aluminum weather


jacketing. See the Insulation and Refractory Manual Section 130 for guidelines and specifications.

Install extra insulation on the upper part of the shell. This is needed to eliminate the fin effect from the top angle. (See Figure 1200-7.)

Install extra insulation on nozzle and valve bodies to cut down on stockside
corrosion.

Fig. 1200-7 Sulfur TankRoof-to-Shell Flashing Details

Roof Insulation

July 2000

The standard Owens Corning Roof Deck insulation is used (see Insulation and
Refractory Manual). Richmond used 4-inch thick insulation.

Sealing is very important. In the past, a tar and gravel sealer has been applied
on top of the insulation. This sealer, however, does crack and allow moisture to

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leak into the insulation; and it inhibits moisture already in the insulation from
permeating out.
As an alternative to tar and gravel sealer, Richmond used a Belzona Flexible
Membrane over the Roof Deck insulation. This membrane is flexible yet allows
some permeation of water vapor. Experience with this type of membrane is limited.
Other refineries have had some experience with a metallic Thermacon weathercoating system held in place by cables. This looks like an excellent product. Consult
the CRTC Materials and Equipment Engineering Unit if you have any questions on
this subject.

Flashing
The roof-to-shell flashing design is extremely important. Figure 1200-7 shows a
cross section of the flashing detail at the roof-to-shell joint. The major feature here
is a 6-inch, 10-gauge, 304 stainless steel strip continuously seal welded to the top
angle. This strip prevents moisture underneath the roof insulation from migrating
under the shell insulation. This strip must also be insulated so that it does not act as
a fin and actually cool the shell, causing corrosion problems.

1268 Miscellaneous Features


Smothering Systems

If possible, use an N2 smothering system. This system eliminates a large source


of moisture in the tank. Size the system to make the tank inert in 10 minutes.
Use this system only to smother a fire.

If steam smothering is required, mount the control valve as close to the tank as
possible to eliminate the chance of a deadleg of condensate building up downstream of the valve.

Blanketing

Some plants have used N2 blanketing to keep the tank inert. This is not
recommended because it allows pyrophoric FeS to build up, resulting in fire
when oxygen enters the tank.

We recommend installing six 8-inch vents on the roof every 60 degrees around
the tank. An eductor pulls an air sweep into the vents through the tank and out
the eductor line located at the center of the roof. This air sweep provides
enough oxygen to continuously oxidize the FeS, preventing it from building up.
The vents need to be capped to keep the rain out. The educted air usually goes
to a caustic scrubber for removal of the H 2S.

1269 Operations
Operate the tank with a minimal vapor space. This method keeps the top warmer
and provides less volume to sweep.

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1270 Aluminum Tanks


Introduction
Aluminum has a number of attributes that assure it a niche in the structural metals
market: its light weight (approximately 1/3 the density of carbon steel, 0.1 lb/in3)
and its corrosion resistance. While its light weight can be valuable, aluminums low
modulus of elasticity requires attention to control of deflections and buckling. By
alloying aluminum with other elements, physical properties comparable to carbon
steels may be achieved. Also, the reflectivity of aluminum may eliminate the need
for surface treatments. In non-structural applications, its high thermal and electrical
conductivity are well known. Aluminum may be formed, machined, joined, welded
and fastened by standard methods and equipment that are also used in carbon steel
fabrication.

Corrosion of Aluminum
Aluminums corrosion resistance is due to a thin aluminum oxide film which forms
quickly when aluminum is exposed to oxygen and some aqueous solutions. Anodizing the surface by treating it with certain acids simply builds a thick oxide layer.
Because the tenacious oxide film forms so readily, it will renew itself when abraded
away or chemically removed.
Aluminum responds to crevice corrosion by building up voluminous quantities of
white rust or aluminum oxide. This is common where an aluminum surface is
tightly pressed against another surface. Potential for crevice corrosion is high in
tank bottoms because these are often lap welded and corrosion starts from the
underside.
The corrosion chemistry of aluminum is complex. For example, 0.1% water in
methanol prevents corrosion, even at high temperatures, whereas a trace of water
accelerates corrosion. However, because aluminum is immune to the corrosive
effects of many chemicals, it is a candidate for tank construction.
Aluminum tends to pit with water that has chloride ions in it. Levels as low as
.1 ppm of copper or of iron in water can react with aluminum, depositing metallic
copper or iron at local sites, which initiate pitting. Therefore, aluminum is not suitable for any tanks which may have trace heavy metals in the stored liquid.
Cladding aluminum is an efficient way of reducing through-wall pitting. Alclad
products are high strength alloy cores, in sheet or tubing form, that have clad layers
of pure aluminum or aluminum alloys bonded to the core. The cladding is
engineered to be anodic, or sacrificial to the core, and essentially creates a built-in
cathodic protection system. The clad material is usually less than 10% of the
thickness of the total material and is non-heat treatable. Because of the sacrificial
cladding, the corrosion progresses through the cladding but stops at the core.

Alloys
Numerous alloys are available for industrial applications, each in a broad range of
tempers. The Aluminum Association has established a system of numerical
designations for all alloy grades in general commercial use. These designations

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standardize the specifications and properties of the material, regardless of the


source.
The wrought alloys and temper designation are:
Aluminum

99% + pure

1xxx

Alloying Element

copper

2xxx

manganese

3xxx

silicon

4xxx

magnesium

5xxx

mag and silicone

6xxx

zinc

8xxx

other

9xxx

Temper Designations are:


F

as fabricated

annealed

strain hardened

W =

solution heat treated

thermally treated to produce stable tempers


other than F, O, or H

Aluminum as a pure element is relatively low strength. The strength is enhanced by


addition of small amounts of other elements, heat treatment and/or strain hardening,
or cold working. Heat treatable means the strength can be enhanced by heat treatment: non-heat treatable alloys can be cold worked for strength enhancement.

Applications
Aluminum is commonly used in hoppers and silos for plastics and resin storage. It is
commonly used in the chemical industry for storage of fertilizers. Because
aluminum shows no low-temperature embrittlement, it has been used in cryogenic
storage. The non-spark characteristics of aluminum alloys make is useful for some
applications where flammability is involved. Figure 1200-8 is a list of chemicals
typically stored in aluminum.

Water Storage
Because aluminum is compatible with pure water, distilled water, deionized water,
uncontaminated rainwater and heavy water used in nuclear reactors, aluminum
storage tanks are a cost effective material for these applications. There is virtually
no metal contamination of waters. For potable water, the amounts of dissolved
aluminum and salts are considered safe. Because surface preparations and coatings
are not necessary, the aluminum storage tank will often be competitive with coated
carbon steel storage systems.

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Fig. 1200-8 Typical Bulk Chemicals Handled in Aluminum Equipment


Acetaldehyde

Cyclohexane

Mono-chloro-difluoro Mechane

Rice

Acetic Acid

Cyclopentane

Molasses

Rubber and Rubber Products

Acetic Anhydride

Cyclopropane

Rye
Naphthalene

Acetone
Acrolein

Dairy Products

Naphthenic Acid

Safflower

Acrylonitrile

Dichlorobenzene

Naval Stores

Salicylic Acid

Nitric Acid (Concentrate)

Shelac

Adipic Acid
Alcohols (except for dry and
boiling)

Ebonite

Nitrocellulose

Soap

Essential Oils

Nitrogen Fertilizers

Sodium Bicarbonate

Aldol

Ester Gum

Nitroglycerine

Sodium Carbonate

Alumina and its hydrates

Ethyl Acetate

Nitrous Oxide

Sodium Chloride

Aluminum Chlorideria

Ethyl Aceroacerate

Nylon and Nylon Saits

Sodium Nitrate

Aluminum Potassium Sulfate

Ethyl Alcohol

Aluminum Silicate

Ethylene Glycol

Aluminum Sulfate

Sodium Sulfate
Oleic Acid

Soybeans and Soybean


Products

Oils, Edible

Ammonia

Fatty Acids

Oxalic Acid

Starch

Ammoniated Ammonium
Nitrate Solutions

Feeds

Oxygen

Sugars

Ammonium Nitrate
Ammonium Sulfate
Ammonium Thiocyanate
Aniline
Anthracene
Baking Powder
Barium Carbonate
Benzene
Benzoic Acid

Sulfur Dioxide

Formaldehyde

Paints, Varnishes & Paint


Materials

Furfural

Parafins

Tail Oil

Paraformaldehydes

Tar

Gasoline

Paraldehyde

Tobacco Stems

Glucose

Peanuts and Peanut Products

Toluene

Glycerin

Pentane

Trichlrobenzene

Grains

Perchlaroethylene

Trichlroethylene

Grits, Hominy

Petroleum Products, Refined

Flour

Phthalic Acid

Bone Black
Bone Acid
Butyl Acetate
Calcium Carbide
Calcium Chromate

Helium
Hexamine

Pitch

Vegetable Oils

Hydrocyanic Acid

Polyethylene

Vinyl Acetate

Hydrogen

Polystyrene

Vinyl Resins

Hydrogen Peroxide

Potassium Carbonate

Isobutyric Acid

Coal

Potassium Chloride

Water, High Purity

Potassium Iodide

Wood Chips

Potassium Nitrate

Carconic Acid
Caster Oil

Lacquer and its solvents

Potassium Sulfate

Linseed Oil

Propane
Propionic Acid

Cod Liver Oil


Corn Syrup

Malt

Propionic Anhydride

Creosote

Manganese Dioxide

Propylene Glycol

Cresol

Maple Syrup

Crotonaldehyde

Methyl Ethyl Kerone

July 2000

Urea

Phthalic Anhydride

Carbon Dioxide
Carbon Disulfide

Sulfur

Ferrous Sulfate

1200-32

Xylene
Zinc Sulfide

Chevron Corporation

Tank Manual

1200 Special Types of Tanks

Fresh water is categorized as follows:

Waters containing heavy metals such as copper, nickel and lead. Aluminum is
not recommended for these services because the heavy metals may contribute
to high pitting rates.

Neutral or near-neutral waters. For waters in a pH range of 6 - 9 there need be


little concern about corrosion.

Alkaline waters. A pH range of 8.5 - 9 is acceptable.

Acid waters. A pH range of 4 or higher is acceptable.

Treated Water: Water containing dissolved gases such as carbon dioxide or oxygen
in condensate applications or water containing amines, chromates and
polyphosphates or other alkaline inhibitors. Aluminum may be used for these do not
adversely affect the use applications.
Recirculated water may become corrosive to aluminum because it picks up copper
and iron from various equipment such as pumps, pipes, and instrumentation. The
dissolved metals plate-out on the aluminum, causing localized pitting. If the water is
treated with inhibitors and cathodic protection, the problem can be controlled.
High purity water systems can be a candidate for aluminum storage systems.
Aluminum is often used to store heavy water from nuclear reactors.
Steam Condensate: If the water is free from boiler carry-over, aluminum may be
used as it is unaffected by condensate; however, alkaline water-treating compounds
may be corrosive.
Sea Water: Copper-free aluminum alloys are resistant to clean sea water. The
corrosion that occurs is usually localized pitting.

Design, Materials, Fabrication, Construction and Testing


The recognized standard that covers the details for cylindrical aluminum storage
tanks is ASME B96.1. Additional information about this standard is available from
CRTCs Tank Specialist.

Costs
Cost considerations for aluminum tanks include materials cost, labor costs and
recurring maintenance costs. From the long-term viewpoint, the recurring costs of
recoating or repainting becomes significant. From a short-term view, the initialinstalled cost is all that matters. Other factors that could affect cost are plant
shutdowns caused by unexpected failure of materials due to corrosion, fatigue, or
mechanical failure.

Recommendations
For some applications aluminum may be cost-competitive with stainless steel tanks
if prices continue their downward trend. When aluminum tanks are shop fabricated,
the costs per-unit-volume of storage capacity should be lower because of the
controlled conditions needed for welding and fabrication of aluminum. Another

Chevron Corporation

1200-33

July 2000

1200 Special Types of Tanks

Tank Manual

significant advantage to shop fabricated tanks is that the bottom may be coated so
that pitting on the underside is not a problem.
Because even trace quantities of various elements can accelerate corrosion in
aluminum, a compatibility study must be conducted before using aluminum
storage tanks.

1280 References

July 2000

ASME, B96.1, Welded Aluminum Alloy Storage Tanks

Alcoa Structural Handbook

Aluminum Association: Aluminum in Storage

Aluminum Association: Specifications for Aluminum Structures

Aluminum Association: Aluminum Standards and Data 1990

Aluminum Association: Specifications for Aluminum Sheet

American Society of Metals, Metals Handbook, Desk Edition, 1985 LaQue


and Copson, Corrosion Resistance of Metals and Alloys, 2nd ed, American
Chemical Society Monograph Series, Reinhold Publishing Corporation, NY,
1963

Editor: Hatch, Aluminum Properties and Physical Metallury American


Society for Metals, 1984

Editor: Uhlig, The Corrosion Handbook, Wiley and Sons, 1948

Jawad and Farr, Structural Analysis and Design of Process Equipment

Moody, Analysis and Design of Plastic Storage Tanks Transactions of the


ASME May 1969 pp. 400

Uhlig, Corrosion and Corrosion Control, An Introduction To Corrosion


Science and Engineering, 2nd ed, John Wiley and Sons, 1963

Reynolds Metal Company, Structural Aluminum Design, 1962

Metal Handbook, Ninth Edition, Volume 2, Properties and Selection: Nonferrous Alloys and Pure Metals, American Society for Metals, copyright 1979

1200-34

Chevron Corporation