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Comment Operations & Maintenance

This device reduces manual labor for cleaning storage tanks

By Chemical Engineering |

Cleaning the inside of large storage tanks at petroleum refineries and bulk chemical facilities typically involves workers using water cannons, shovels and even mini bulldozers. Such manual labor is not only time-consuming, but places the workers at risk due to flammable and toxic vapors that may be present. A device developed by researchers at CSIRO’s Fluids Engineering Laboratory (Melbourne, Australia; edlinks.chemengonline.com/6515-541) promises to be a faster, safer and less-expensive way to keep tanks clean. The patented R-Jet device is placed inside the tank, where it generates a high-velocity rotational jet of water that resuspends sediment and prevents resettlement of solids into the sludge, which now has to be removed manually.

Safety was one of the main issues in the jet’s design; it is driven by a hydroelectric mechanism, which precludes using motors inside tanks, and the components are sealed to avoid contact with aggressive slurries. The jet, which acts like a lawn sprinkler to slowly cover as large an area as possible, can be permanently installed inside a tank to prevent sludge build-up, or installed on a temporary basis.

The R-Jet has been demonstrated in an Australian refinery, where it was used to clean two tanks. CSIRO is now seeking an engineering company to commercialize the technology.

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