Bringing you the latest news in fuel management systems
Preventing fuel tank corrosion
21 June 2019
In a country like Australia with such harsh conditions, keeping anything outside for extended periods of time poses unique challenges. The weather alternates from extreme heat to frosty snow which are both toxic to machinery, plant life is abundant and can interfere with sensitive equipment, and even the animals are known to knock things over when nobody’s looking.
So how can we prevent fuel tanks from the corrosive effects of the elements?
A leaky problem
Diesel fuelcontainers are, essentially, large cylinders or boxes made of stainless steel and iron. They range in size from small-scale self-bunded storage tanks to massive installations designed for supplying fuel to thousands of vehicles and machines each load.
While steel is virtually indestructible in normal conditions, continued exposure to the elements introduces problems. The surface of a fuel tank can corrode, especially when it comes into contact with water for extended periods of time.
We can predict how long a fuel tank is expected to last out in the sun, but the deterioration process is accelerated considerably when water is involved. If a pool of water lies stagnant against the surface of a tank, any chips or exposed areas of the container can rust quickly and go brittle. These outer of the tanks are barricaded with 4-5mm thick steel plates indicating the corrosion would have no chance in entering the inner tank.
Of course, diesel fuel tanks should be placed in a high position to prevent contact with the ground or pooled water wherever possible.
One method that has come into favour recently involves attaching a flat piece of metal to the underside of the fuel tank. This acts as a weather strip, and keeps water moving away from the base of the tank. Initial versions of this weather strip used an epoxy resin to work as a glue, but the effects of extreme heat struck once more and weakened the adhesive.
A new fixing method, which involved arc welding the weather strip to the base, was invented and is now in use internationally. It’s estimated that using these weather strips will extend the life of a regular fuel supply by years.
Routine inspections of fuel tanks are also an option and have proven themselves to be a cost-effective method of extending their lifespan. While it involves sending someone out to manually inspect the tank it is still better than unexpectedly losing a tank for days or even weeks while a replacement is delivered, much less the environmental and financial cost of wasted fuel.