The Hidden Enemy: Identifying and Preventing Corrosion in Storage Tanks

The repercussions of a corroded storage tank can extend far beyond monetary losses and environmental damage. Corrosion prevention is crucial in industries such as oil and gas, where a single tank failure can lead to catastrophic accidents. As these industries depend on these tanks to store substances ranging from oil to chemicals, it becomes imperative to understand and combat corrosion effectively.

Read on to explore about this hidden enemy, its effect on storage tanks, and effective strategies to identify and prevent corrosion from happening in the first place. 

Why Do Storage Tanks Corrode?

In general, corrosion occurs when metal reacts with its environment, resulting in the degradation of the metal surface. From a scientific perspective, corrosion happens due to an electrochemical reaction. From one end of the inner surface of the storage tank to the other, an electric current travels through the liquid. Corrosion of the tank’s surface occurs as a result of the current flow, causing part of the metal to dissolve into the liquid. 

When storage tanks are often exposed to aggressive substances, such as corrosive chemicals or moisture, this can accelerate the corrosion process. Over time, corrosion weakens the structural integrity of the tank, resulting in leaks, contamination, and potential environmental hazards. Which is why it is crucial to identify and address corrosion early on to avoid catastrophic consequences.

How to Identify Corrosion in Storage Tanks

As with most metal-based structures, storage tanks are prone to rusting and decaying from long-term usage. Even if your storage tank is cleaned frequently, micro-aquatic organisms and other bacteria can still cause corrosion. If you notice any cracks, leaks, or cavities within your water retaining structure, your water tank will act as an ideal nesting spot for bacteria.

If you identify that your metal substrate is breaking down, corrosion is taking place inside your storage tank for water. Here are some of the best ways to identify corrosion in your storage tanks:

1. Visual Inspection

Regular visual inspections of storage tanks can help identify signs of corrosion. Look for visible rust, pitting, or discoloration on the tank’s surface. Pay close attention to seams, welds, and areas exposed to moisture or chemicals.

2. Non-Destructive Testing (NDT)

NDT techniques, such as ultrasonic testing or magnetic particle inspection, can detect hidden corrosion beneath the tank’s surface. These methods allow for accurate and non-intrusive evaluation of the tank’s condition.

3. Corrosion Monitoring Systems

Installing corrosion monitoring systems, such as corrosion coupons or online corrosion sensors, will provide you with real-time data on the corrosion rate and allow for proactive maintenance and prevention measures.

Ways to Prevent Corrosion

Corrosion of a tank is prevented by protective coatings and regular maintenance.  The inner wall of the tank can be coated with paint, which forms a physical barrier between the cathode and anode and prevents the electrons from moving out of the steel wall. 

Protective Coatings

Their primary function is to provide barrier protection. That is, the coating acts as a shield that prevents air and moisture from encountering the metal substrate. Applying high-quality protective coatings to the storage tank’s interior and exterior surfaces creates a barrier against corrosive substances.

Corrosion Inhibitors

Storage tanks for chemicals can be protected with corrosion inhibitors, in addition to coatings, which perform in a different way than simply covering up the tank metal. They are either applied to the interior of the tank like a coating or poured into the stored liquid and react in a way that removes oxygen from the liquid so it cannot affect the tank metal and cause decomposition.

Regular Maintenance

When you conduct regular inspections and maintenance on your storage tank, you can spot early signs of corrosion and take the necessary measures to stop it. Implementing a comprehensive maintenance program is crucial for preventing corrosion. This includes regular cleaning, removal of sediment or debris, and prompt repairs of any identified corrosion or coating damage.

Prevent Corrosion Before it’s Too Late!

Corrosion poses a significant threat to the integrity and longevity of storage tanks. By understanding the signs of corrosion and implementing preventive measures, you can mitigate the risks associated with this hidden enemy. Regular inspections and maintenance are essential for early detection. Moreover, protective coatings, cathodic protection systems, and a comprehensive maintenance program play crucial roles in preventing corrosion.

Storage Tank Inspections Is Here to Help!

Let Storage Tank Inspections cater to your maintenance and inspection needs to prevent corrosion of your storage tanks! We specialize in providing various storage tanks services, such as inspections for fire tanks, potable water tanks, reservoirs, industrial panel tanks, and more! 

Contact us now for all your tank inspection needs.

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