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Liquids are accumulated and stored in tanks of various shapes and sizes throughout the

chemical process industries (CPI). A small number of companies have made the design,
fabrication and erection of these vessels their specialty. Initially, however, it is the process
engineer who sizes and specifies tanks according to a specific application's needs. In order
to develop a data sheet for tank specifications, it is important for a process engineer to have
a basic understanding of tanks and the related requirements.

Tanks are used to store many kinds of liquids. The focus here is on hydrocarbons, which
deserve particular care because of their flammable or combustible properties. Hydrocarbon
liquids can be classified per Table 1 [1]. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
has published several volumes on recommended practices for fire protection, wherein
guidelines pertaining to the storage of hydrocarbon liquids are included.

Tank classifications

According to the NFPA [2], atmospheric storage tanks are defined as those tanks that are
designed to operate at pressures between atmospheric and 6.9 kPa gage, as measured at the
top of the tank. Such tanks are built in two basic designs--the cone-roof design where the
roof remains fixed, and the floating-roof design where the roof floats on top of the liquid
and rises and falls with the liquid level.

Fixed roof design. Fixed-roof tanks consist of a cylindrical shell with a permanently welded
roof that can be flat, conical or dome-shaped. Such tanks are used to store materials with a
true vapor pressure of less than 10.3 kPa absolute [3].

External-floating roof design. In floating-roof storage tanks, the roof is made to rest on the
stored liquid and is free to move with the level of the liquid. These tanks reduce evaporation
losses and control breathing losses while filling. They are preferred for storage of petroleum
products with a true vapor pressure of 10.3 to 76.5 kPa absolute [3]. There are principally
three different types of external floating roofs and an internal floating-roof tank. Figure 1
illustrates each of them.

* The pan-type roof (Figure 1.a) is a single-deck roof and has the following characteristics:

--Full contact with liquid surface

--Has a deck, hence any leak through the deck will cause it to sink

--Has no buoyancy other than that provided by the deck

--Rain or snow may cause deformation

--Is the least expensive of the floating roofs

* The pontoon-type roof(Figure 1.b) is a significant improvement over the pan roof. It has
the following characteristics:

--Increased buoyancy and stability

--Pontoons occupy about 20-40% of roof area

* The double-deck roof (Figure 1.c) comprises upper and lower decks separated by
bulkheads and trusses. These roofs have the following characteristics:

--The space between the decks is separated into liquid-tight compartments

--Superior loading capacity

--Recommended for tank diameters below 12 m and above 60 m


Internal-floating roof design. These tanks (Figure 1.d) have an inside floating deck above
which, there is a permanently attached roof. Such tanks are preferred in areas of heavy
snowfall where accumulation of snow or water on the floating roof may affect buoyancy. In
such tanks, the vapor space is normally blanketed with an inert gas.

Physical criteria

Tank capacity. Three different types of tank capacity are defined--nominal, gross and net

For fixed-roof tanks, the nominal capacity is the geometric volume from the bottom of the
tank up to the curb angle, which is a metallic angle that is welded along the periphery at the
top of the cylindrical portion of the tank. In the case of floating-roof tanks, the nominal
capacity is defined as the volume from the underside of the roof deck up to the maximum
floating position of the roof.

The gross capacity (sometimes referred to as the total capacity) is the volume from the
bottom of the tank up to its maximum, safe filling height.
The net capacity is the volume of the tank contents between the low-liquid level (LLL) and
the high-liquid level (HLL).

Tank dimensions. Various factors can affect the choice of tank dimensions. In general, tank
heights do not exceed one and a half times the diameter. …