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Plastic Molded Tanks – What Kind Of Life Expectancy Do They Have?
General dimensions of rotational molded polyethylene tanks:
There are many sizes available for vertical single-wall tanks, ranging from 5 gallons to 15,000 gallons, as well as hundreds of sizes for horizontal, rectangular, and conical bottom configurations. There are generally two styles of double wall containment systems that range in size from 15 to 10,500 gallons.
Polyethylene tanks are excellent for applications that store a wide variety of liquids up to 120 degrees F. Polyethylene tanks can withstand temperatures below freezing, but temperatures above 120 F will begin to soften the walls of the tank and they become engorged. Long-term exposure to high temperatures could cause stress cracking. Tanks with fiberglass reinforced walls can withstand higher temperatures.
Polyethylene tanks are also known as – Polyethylene tanks | Plastic tanks | PE tanks
Life expectancy of plastic tanks:
There is no proven way to determine the life of a polyethylene tank. Many variables can have an effect on the deposit, including:
- Are there chemicals mixed in the tank?
- Do chemicals react or mix in the tank?
- What is the temperature of the chemical?
- What is the weight of the chemical? Some chemicals are more aggressive to the deposit than others, such as sodium hypochlorite and some surfactants.
- How many process fittings are installed in the tank and what size are the fittings?
- What other features or accessories are attached to the tank walls and are they properly supported?
- Is there mechanical agitation in the tank?
- Is there external loading or mechanical vibration on the tank or nozzles?
- Is the tank used temporarily in one place and then moved frequently? The more often a tank is moved, the more physical stress it is exposed to by lifting, loading and strapping to a truck, etc., and this physical stress can also affect the integrity of the tank.
- Is the tank used indoors or outdoors?
- If the tank is outdoors, where in the country is it? Tanks used outdoors in Arizona or Florida are subjected to more intense sun than in Minnesota, for example. Although the polyethylene resins used in chemical storage tanks have ultraviolet inhibitors, UV rays will have a detrimental effect on the life of any polyethylene tank.
- Is the tank used strictly for stationary storage or for transport? Each of these factors will have an effect on the useful life of the polyethylene tank.
Rotational molded plastic tanks have been on the market for almost 40 years. So we got a good overview of what the average life of a rotational molded polyethylene tank will be. This is only a general average observation due to many unknown factors unique to each application as described above. Many applications are very “tank friendly” and therefore tanks have an unusually long lifespan. Other applications are particularly demanding and therefore the tanks have a very short service life. We’ve seen tanks fail in less than two years and we’ve seen others over 20 years old.
While there is no guarantee how long a polyethylene tank will actually last, we know from experience that the average plastic storage tank will last between 10 and 20 years, depending on the type of chemicals contained in the tank and the conditions of the environment where they are used. There are exceptions to this, such as 12-1/2% sodium hypochlorite, which generally causes deposits to age prematurely after only 5 to 7 years. This happens in all linear HD polyethylene tanks, regardless of manufacturer (it happens more quickly in cross-linked polyethylene tanks) due to the chemical nature of sodium hypochlorite. Since each application has its own unique conditions, it is impossible to make a general statement about how long you can expect a given tank to last in a given application unless we know all the details of that particular application. Still, the best anyone can reasonably offer is a general expectation, based on available information. There have been cases where a tank was purchased for a specific chemical at a specified concentration and later the concentration was increased or the tank redeployed for a completely different chemical and service condition. In these cases, we obviously cannot predict what effect these changes may have on the life of the tank.
General tank guarantees:
There are standard warranties on deposits if used in approved applications. This type of warranty is 3 years for standard weight tanks and 5 years for heavy duty tanks. The warranty covers the repair or replacement of a tank that fails due to defects in materials and workmanship. Most tanks that fail due to a manufacturing defect will do so within the first few months after the tank is placed in service. If the deposit survives beyond the warranty period, it will most likely last 10-15 years or more.
If a tank is several years old, how can you determine if it is still safe to use?
If a plastic tank is starting to show its age, you may see fine cracks or capillary cracks known as cracks. Look for cracks in the dome of a vertical tank in the area where the sunlight is strongest or around the nozzles on the side wall of the tank, especially where the mechanical loads of pipes and valves connect. The top of a shipping tank, which has been left outside year-round, is also a good place to look. These fine cracks will become more intense and visible as time passes and become stress cracks. Dropping a light into the tank can be helpful in visual examinations, because stress cracks will be easier to detect with the internal light source in place. The resistance of a good tank will be obvious. A tank past its life expectancy will sound dull when hit and might break as a result. It is better to check regularly and early to be safe than to waste valuable chemicals and incur cleaning expenses from an unexamined tank that fails. Periodic (at least annual) documented tank inspections should be a normal part of your plant’s safety and maintenance program. When a tank shows signs of wear or is determined to be unsafe, it is best to replace it.
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