Thanks to BUCHEN’s engineers, who have optimised the company’s automated tank cleaning systems, it is now possible to not only clean large-scale tanks really quickly and effectively but also to recover exceptionally high volumes of the tank’s product from the sludge. A recent cleaning project demonstrates this perfectly, with BUCHEN succeeding in recovering a huge amount of oil from the sludge that had been removed from a 105,000 cubic metre crude oil tank.
The contents of the sludge were far too valuable to be simply sent on for disposal – by the end of the process, oil worth a seven-figure sum had been recovered
With a diameter of 91 metres and a nominal capacity of 105,000 cubic metres, this is one of the largest oil tanks in Europe. This massive structure has now been successfully cleaned by the specialists from BUCHEN Tank- and TurnaroundService GmbH as part of the tank’s regular maintenance programme. The BUCHEN project managers know exactly why their company had been commissioned to do this particularly complex cleaning project: “We are the only business in the sector that has automated tank cleaning systems that are able to produce efficient results and cope with the huge volumes of sludge found in tanks of this size.”
Visually inspecting the BTS Blabo® jet washer system
The numbers speak for themselves: over 11,000m³ of sludge were removed from this huge container during the tank cleaning procedure. The work was carried out day and night and, if the installation of the equipment, rinsing and fine cleaning work are taken into account, took several months to complete. You would be wrong, though, if you thought the sludge could simply be sent on for disposal: its contents were far too valuable – by the end of the process, oil worth a seven-figure sum had been recovered. BUCHEN then used its own highly efficient upgraded version of the so-called BTS BLABO® jet washer system to clean the huge tank.
This innovative process is one of the most powerful closed-loop, automated tank cleaning systems currently available on the market. This computer-controlled technology operates at pressures of up to 12 bar and is fully automatic. A BUCHEN specialist went into more detail: “We looked at what our individual customers needed and then upgraded these closed-loop, automated tank cleaning systems so that we can meet their specific requirements. Manual cleaning work is hardly ever needed anymore. This also means our customers have lower disposal costs as we are able to recover a high percentage of the product stored in the tank from the sludge.” These cleaning systems are placed in mobile containers which can then be transported to and installed on site at the customer’s plant. As part of its work, BUCHEN also supplies the electricity, steam, nitrogen and any other media that may be required.
The nitrogen evaporator used to create an inert atmosphere in the tank
For the most part, the washer and cleaning nozzles used by this innovative technology are inserted into the tank via the openings that are already available – such as the liner tubes in the roof supports, manway hatches or even sampling sockets. In this project, for example, a special structure had to be installed over the tank’s roof to prevent it from being damaged whilst the cleaning equipment was being set up. The customer had an added bonus here as the equipment installed on the tank could also be used to pump out and process the almost 300 cubic metres of residue from a nearby desalination plant – a fast, uncomplicated and highly practical solution.
What was noticeable throughout the project was the excellent cooperation work between BUCHEN and its customer. Top of the list of priorities here were work safety and environmental protection. The joint risk assessments carried out for each stage of the work certainly ensured that the project was completed efficiently and without a single accident.