What is Tank Sludge and how to Prevent it?


An Overview Of Sludge And Bilge Management Onboard Ships

Fuels have become an essential commodity without which the industries can’t survive. Industries that rely on fuel to produce energy require a steady flow of oil and fuel. Such industries keep commercial fuel tanks in bulk and spend money and resources to ensure they are regularly maintained. Failing to maintain fuel storage tanks can lead to catastrophes like leakage, explosion, or fire. Such incidents not only put a monetary burden on industries but also cause damage to the environment. If you are a storage tank facility owner or operation, you must tie up with tank inspection companies that offer worldwide inspection services.

Regular inspections allow one to detect problems in the tank as well as the fuel in time. However, many tank owners call for help only when the issue has escalated. Seeking help when there is a problem can lead to further issues. Fuel sludge is one of the most common problems faced by tank operators. The formation of fuel sludge renders the fuel unfit for any use. The formation of fuel sludge gradually leads to leakage that can cause both leads to environmental hazards. Moreover, the cost of cleaning the leakage and refining the damaged fuel is way higher than maintaining the tank. 

In this blog, we will discuss what fuel sludge is to prevent fuel sludge formation.

 What is tank sludge, and how does it form?

Fuel tank contamination is one of the most common causes of fuel sludge. The fuel can get contaminated in numerous ways. The fuel sludge can form in the tank due to the oxidation of hydrocarbons or dirt in the fuel. Direct leakage of water into the fuel tank is another common reason for the formation of fuel sludge. Water can enter the fuel tank through cracks or moisture. Once the water molecules’ level in the fuel tank reaches a certain level, it starts to turn into tiny droplets. The water in the fuel creates a perfect environment for the microbes to form and turn into diesel bugs. 

 Fuel sludge settles down in the bottom of the tank. This makes it hard for the technicians to detect them in time. Only certified tank inspection companies can examine the tanks to determine the degree of damage.

Luckily, there are some telltale signs to identify the formation of fuel sludge in the tanks. Corrosion in the tank, dark patches at the bottom of the tank, and foul odor are some apparent fuel sludge signs. 

How to prevent fuel tank sludge?

Once the microbes have started forming inside the fuel tank, quick action can only prevent further damage. The process of removing the fuel sludge and refining the contaminated fuel is time-intensive and costly. Only certified and trained professionals can perform the procedure. If fuel sludge is left unchecked and untreated for long, it can lead to leakage, spills, and further corrosion. The best way to prevent fuel sludge buildup is regular tank check-ups. Moreover, there are federal and state agencies that regulate and monitor the upkeep of commercial storage tanks. Such agencies have made it mandatory for storage tank owners and operators to conduct regular tank inspections.  

Let’s look into some effective methods to prevent the formation of fuel tank sludge. 

Keep the fuel tank clean: 

One of the most effective methods to prevent the fuel sludge from forming inside the fuel tank is to keep the fuel tank clean. However, one must employ a professional tank inspection and cleaning company equipped with all the necessary technology. 

Replace the tank: 

The fuel tanks are made of specially treated material. However, like all other things, it comes with an expiration date. Once the fuel storage tank has reached a certain age, it must be discarded. Overusing old tanks can lead to unforeseen leaks and contamination. If there are corroded oil tanks in your facility, replacing them is the best way to prevent fuel sludge.