In 1919, a faulty storage tank at a Boston distillery suffered a catastrophic failure. 2.3 million gallons of wretched, fermenting molasses burst from the tank with enough force to collapse buildings and send deadly shrapnel in all directions. For want of a properly constructed and maintained storage tank, 21 people died and downtown Boston was coated in several feet of fetid goo for weeks to come.
This incident illustrated the importance of due diligence when choosing storage tanks. When looking for a storage tank provider, you need to consider several key factors concerning the design, materials, and maintenance of your new tank.
Keep reading for more.
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Factors to Consider When Choosing Storage Tanks
It’s tempting to think that there’s nothing to building a storage tank. The basic technology has been around since ancient peoples built cisterns to hold water.
But in reality, there’s a lot that goes into building a secure tank. To ensure secure storage and meet local environmental and zoning regulations, you need to consider these points:
When considering options for storage tanks, the materials used in construction will make the most difference. Common options for large tanks include carbon steel, stainless steel, and aluminum. All of these are quite durable and allow for some degree of protection against the elements.
Small tanks can be made from more varied materials. Plastic and fiberglass are two common options.
The manner of construction is important as well.
For large-quantity storage, you will almost always need a field-welded tank, meaning they’re assembled on-premises. Smaller tanks can be factory-welded, by contrast. For smaller quantities of dry goods, steel-bolted tanks are an adaptable solution.
Most materials in storage tanks need to be kept at a stable temperature. This can make hot summers and cold winters a challenge. The Great Molasses Flood, for example, was caused in part by an unseasonably warm January that made the contents of the tank expand past its breaking point.
In modernity, we can use heating or cooling systems to keep tanks at a steady temperature. But the cost of electricity can cause an undue financial burden.
A more elegant solution is to invest in storage tank insulation. Insulating your tanks can help keep their contents under optimal conditions at a fraction of the long-term cost.
Temperature isn’t the only ambient condition you need to think about.
Is the area prone to high winds? Are seismic disturbances common? Are there heavy snows that can cause high roof loads?
Any of those factors may necessitate added features to your tanks. You may need to reinforce the roof for example. Or build a shorter, stouter tank that can better endure seismic activity.
Finding the Right Solution for Your Business
When choosing storage tanks, it’s important to cover all of your bases. Boston’s Great Molasses Flood is a notorious example of what can happen when a tank fails. To prevent causing a disaster of your own, you need to choose the right materials and features for the job.
These are the kinds of factors you need to consider when running a safe, successful business. For more guides like this one, be sure to check out our other posts.