Composite Tanks May Have Future Role
Jan 1, 1998 12:00 PM
INTERNATIONAL regulations have no provisions for them at this time, but tank containers made of composite materials drew considerable interest at Marichem 97 in Cologne, Germany. Two companies promoted composite tanks at the show.
Westerwaelder Eisenwerk GmbH (WEW), Weitefeld, Germany, exhibited a prototype IMO-0 tank container that qualifies for land transport within Europe. A lining was incorporated into the filament-wound fiberglass tank, which can be used to transport acids and other products that are corrosive to stainless and carbon steel.
An outside contractor fabricated the tank, which WEW workers mounted in a steel frame. Note the steel collar that supports the fiberglass tank.
Despite international restrictions, WEW sees a good market for the new tank. "We have orders already," said Jan Gerhard-de Vries, WEW president. "We can certify the tank container under ADR and RID (the road and rail transport regulations in Europe). "We'll work on IMO certification later."
GATT International Ltd, Rancho Santa Margarita, California, manufactures filament-wound composite cargo tanks that are 35 times stronger and one-sixth the weight of comparable steel tanks, according to Joseph Harrington, GATT International president. The technology has been used successfully in missiles and missile fuel tanks.
The tank structure includes a fiberglass skin, foam layer, and paperboard with a cellular configuration for strength. The inner skin is UniLine, a universal tank lining that can handle virtually any chemical, solvent, or acid.
UniLine uses Advanced Polymer Sciences' patented Siloxirane polymer-based lining material with fiberglass reinforcement. The liner has a high tolerance to abrasion and impact damage, in addition to excellent resistance to a wide range of highly aggressive materials. It is similar to Teflon in performance.
While the composite tanks can be used domestically in many countries, they are not allowed to transport hazardous materials internationally. The international regulations stipulate that vessels such as tank containers that are used for hazmat must be made of metal.
Tank container operators are showing an interest in the composite tanks, but all agree that changes in the international regulations are years away. Still, some IMO-0 composite tanks may be put into international service with non-hazardous cargoes.
Harrington said he has met with a number of companies in the tank container industry in an effort to build interest and has achieved some success. In particular, Sea Containers has expressed an interest in testing a couple of the composite tanks.
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