Storage tanks are made of a variety of metal alloys that hold all different kinds of liquids and materials. The metal these tanks are made of must be formulated accordingly to ensure they’re highly durable and safe for handling toxic and flammable materials as well as other hazardous contents. It’s crucial to know what your storage tanks will hold so you can choose the best metal alloys for fabrication. Failure to match the proper tank with its contents may very well result in corrosion or, worse, leakages causing environmental or human health hazards.
Metal alloys are compounds “composed of one metal and one or more metal, or non metal, elements.” Each alloy has different compounds that allow it to perform better in certain conditions than others. For instance, some are better designed to conduct electricity while others are best suited to withstand extreme environmental conditions.
The most common metal alloys used in storage tank fabrication include the following.
- Carbon steel is a unique steel made up of 2 to 2.1% carbon by weight. Carbon steel is often used in structural applications due to its strength. The more carbon the steel contains, the stronger the metal. However, more carbon in the steel makes it less ductile and harder to mold and weld.
- Stainless steel is a steel based alloy mixture containing between 10.5 and 11% chromium by weight. It is one of the most common and well known metals due to its corrosion resistance and durability. It’s widely used in industries such as construction, manufacturing, and chemical production.
- Duplex stainless steel earned its name by having a “two phase microstructure consisting of grains of ferritic and austenitic stainless steel.” This material is about twice as strong as traditional ferritic and austenitic stainless steels and is very crack and corrosion resistant. Duplex stainless steel is also more durable and ductile.
- Monel alloys are unique nickel based compounds also composed of 29 to 33% copper. The six different types of Monel all contain different metal mixtures. This compound is typically found in chemical plant equipment and the aerospace industry due to its ability to resist chemical corrosion.
- Inconel is a nickel chromium based superalloy uniquely suited for extreme environments due to its ability to remain oxidation and corrosion resistant in severe heat and pressure. It also “exhibits excellent mechanical strength and creep resistance at high temperatures.” Inconel is found in many in gas turbine blades, rotors, and pressure vessels.
- Hastelloy alloys are also useful for combatting corrosion. They can perform well under high temperatures and hold up under pressure. These attributes make them extremely valuable in geothermal, solar, oil and gas, pharmaceutical, and other chemical processing industries.
- Titanium is unique because it occurs naturally. Its attributes set it apart. Consider it is “30% stronger than steel, but is nearly 50% lighter” and “60% heavier than aluminum, but twice as strong.” Titanium is also resistant to corrosion in a huge variety of elements including salt water, chlorine, and many other harsh environments.
- Specialty alloys refer to any unique materials created specifically for individual needs, environments, and applications. These alloys vary widely and are known to be great options for metal storage tank fabrications.
While closely related or similar, each type’s unique features and capabilities set it apart from the others. By choosing the best storage tanks for your unique operations, you can make the most of your investments. Using the proper storage tanks and metals to contain various materials in specific environments can lower maintenance and repair costs, mitigate corrosion, as well as reduce health and safety risks. It can be challenging to understand the unique properties of each; thus, expert advice may be necessary to find the proper alloy for your next project.