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31-01-2018

Hot storage tank base insulation - energy savings and improved safety

Tanks are used for storing a variety of organic liquids, including raw materials, final products and/or usable byproducts. The worldwide demand for chemical products and the storage and handling of chemicals in tank terminals play an important role in the value and processing chain.

Tanks can vary in design and equipment, the type of construction and the storage temperature often depends on the properties of the products that are going to be stored in them.  With such a broad variety of chemicals, a detailed assessment is necessary to ensure that all aspects are taken into consideration to ensure that a product can be stored and handled in a safe and efficient manner.

Energy loss in hot storage tanks
When looking at energy loss in hot storage tanks it is often stated that the tank wall and its roof are the biggest sources of energy losses. This might be the case when a storage tank is completely filled but the situation is somewhat different when the tank is only partially filled. In this case it is not the tank roof or tank wall which is the biggest source of energy loss but the bottom of the hot storage tank. Even when the storage tank is only filled for 10%, the tank bottom will always be in 100% contact with the hot liquid, making it the most important area for energy loss.

For this reason, it is absolutely necessary to have a good thermal insulation system installed underneath your tank bottom. A well-functioning tank base insulation system plays a significant role in conditioning tank contents and reducing energy loss. Typical energy savings can run up to 70% or more. With current sharply increasing energy prices it is more than ever necessary to have a tank base insulation system in place underneath hot storage tanks.

Additional benefits
A tank base insulation system has many other additional benefits other than reducing energy loss. With the right choice of insulation material you are also able to protect the structural material against the high temperatures and create a mechanical strong base that will also prevent any formation of corrosion under insulation. When choosing a fire-safe insulation material you also limit the fire hazards accompanying the storage of flammable liquids and will also minimize the surface temperature of the tank and decreasing the overall fire risk.

FOAMGLAS® High Load Bearing insulation
The number one tank base insulation on the market is Pittsburgh Corning’s FOAMGLAS® insulation. FOAMGLAS® cellular glass insulation is a 100% closed cell insulation that is also available in different high load bearing grades that have been specially designed for tank base applications and have compressive strengths that run up to 240 tons/m². This is a vital factor in tank base insulation for high temperature tanks as insufficient compressive strength will lead to settlement and the resulting loss of thermal performance can unstabilize the processing environment causing reduced viscosity control and possible solidification of the contents.
 
FOAMGLAS® insulation has a proven constant insulation value throughout its life cycle which often is longer than the life cycle of the tank itself. Depending on storage temperature, insulation thickness and energy costs, the payback period, when insulating the bottom of your storage tank bottom with FOAMGLAS® insulation, can be as low as just a few months to two years.

FOAMGLAS® insulation is a Fire Class A1 product that cannot burn nor produce any smoke in case of a fire. Because of its closed cell structure, it’s also completely impermeable and cannot absorb any flammable liquids which could result in spontaneous combustion (wicking) like fibrous insulation materials.

Storage tanks are often used for different purposes over their life cycle and will operate under cyclic temperatures creating an environment where Corrosion Under Insulation (CUI) becomes an even bigger problem. The closed cell structure of FOAMGLAS® insulation forms an impermeable barrier against rising water vapour and moisture, protecting the tank bottom against any formation of corrosion.

To learn more about the benefits of FOAMGLAS® hot tank base insulation systems, you can visit the FOAMGLAS® insulation stand at booth I28 at the StocExpo 2018, the World’s Leading International Event for the Tank Terminal Industry that takes place 20-22 March at the Ahoy in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Conclusion
With the increasing cost of energy,  the ever growing issue of CUI and focus on overall safety it has become more cost-effective to apply a thermal insulation system underneath your hot storage tank. This combined with newer processes that came on stream operating at lower and often cyclic temperatures have made it almost unimaginable to not have a thermal tank base insulation system underneath hot storage tanks, even when they are operating at fairly low temperatures that are reaching the ambient range. A thermal tank base insulation will lead to energy savings, will lead to increased safety and will save money from the moment of installation with extremely short payback periods.
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