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Corrosion of Storage Tanks

Author: Ernest W. Klechka, Jr., CC Technologies Inc. | Document


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Classified as: Batteries and Energy Storage Corrosion ...more
STEEL STORAGE TANKS are the primary means for storing large volumes of liquids
and gaseous products. The stored fluid could be water, but it could be a volatile,
corrosive, and flammable fluid requiring special precautions for storage as well. It is
extremely important to maintain the integrity of on-grade and buried carbon steel
storage tanks for economic and environmental reasons (Ref, Ref, Ref). For water
storage tanks, internal corrosion can result in changes in color (turbidity) and taste that
would be of importance for potable water. For boiler feed water storage tanks, corrosion
products in the water can result in damage to the boiler. There may be specific
requirements for the stored products including temperature, pressure, and control of
contamination. Metal loss from internal and external corrosion can reduce the service
life of the tank. External corrosion can occur because of contact with the soil and
moisture in the soil. The main causes of internal corrosion are contact with corrosive
storage products and water collected on the bottom of the tank (introduced with the
other product or condensed from the air). Interior surface of some storage tanks are
coated or lined to prevent contamination of the stored product and to extend the useful
life of the storage tank. Typically, potable water storage tanks are internally coated to
prevent contamination of the water. Crude oil storage tanks and fuel storage tanks are
typically coated over the entire floor and a meter up the wall. Some chemicals cannot be
suitably stored in carbon steel tanks. See articles dealing with specific chemicals in this
Volume for selection of materials of construction. An important consideration is the
impact of storage tanks on the environment. Regulations have been formulated to
address the possibility of leaks and spills, emissions for the tanks, seepage from tanks
into the ground, and safety. These regulations define stringent standards that
manufacturers and users must follow. Another consideration is the fact that by-products
of internal corrosion can lead to reduced quality for the product stored in the tank. For
example, the presence of iron oxides and water can be damaging to fuels, causing
plugged filters and freezing in cold environments. Storage tanks can be broadly divided

on the basis of their installation into aboveground storage tanks (ASTs) and
underground storage tanks (USTs). Aboveground tanks are common means for storing
liquid hydrocarbon products such as crude oil, aviation fuels, diesel fuel, gasoline, and
other refined products. Underground tanks are often used for dispensing and storage of
home heating oil, gasoline, and diesel fuel. Soil-side external corrosion of both ASTs
and USTs can be mitigated by the use of cathodic protection (CP) with or without the
use of protective coatings. Proper design, installation, and maintenance of CP systems
maintain the integrity and increase the useful life of ASTs and USTs. High-quality
dielectric protective coatings compatible with CP can be applied to properly prepared
surfaces on the exterior of USTs and to the exterior tank bottom of ASTs (Ref).
Aboveground steel tanks are typically designed for 20 to 30 years of useful life. Without
CP or coatings, tank bottoms may have to be replaced after a few years (Ref).

From: ASM Handbook Volume 13C, Corrosion: Environments and Industries


(ASM International)

Published: 2006

Pages: 89 - 96 (8)

Review Type: Peer reviewed