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Safety in Sulfuric Acid Storage Tanks

By Chemical Engineering |

Commonly used in the CPI, sulfuric acid requires many special precautions to ensure its safe handling and storage Figure 1. Storage tanks in sulfuric acid service require many special precautions to ensure safe operations and prevent accidental spills or ignitions[/caption] Sulfuric acid, sometimes called the “king of all chemicals,” is widely used in the chemical process industries (CPI) for the manufacture of various fertilizers and other chemicals. Sulfuric acid (H2SO4) is typically stored and handled in steel storage tanks in tank farms (Figure 1) located at ports, sulfuric acid plants, fertilizer plants and so on. Numerous incidents involving explosions and spills in sulfuric acid storage tanks have been reported worldwide. All too often, a lack of understanding regarding the proper safety aspects required for handling and storing sulfuric acid leads to catastrophic accidents. These incidents can result in environmental pollution, as well as injuries and fatalities. For example, in 2001 at a petroleum refinery in Delaware, a crew of contractors was repairing grating on a catwalk in a sulfuric acid storage-tank farm when a spark from their hot work ignited flammable vapors in one of the storage tanks. One of the acid storage…
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