Dirty tanks and totes? Clean ’em up!

The chemical industry can be messy. Industrial vessels — storage or process tanks, totes, drums, blenders, reactors, kettles, mixers – get the worst of the grime. To ensure consistency, efficiency and environmental compliance, tank cleaning best practices must be applied. While manual cleaning is certainly an option, it’s dangerous and ineffective.

Special Report

Indeed, compared to manual methods, today’s cleaning solutions are able to decrease cleaning times by 75–85%, reduce water and chemical usage by 70–80% and reduce or eliminate confined space entry by 100%, according to Alfa Laval Inc., a provider of tank-cleaning solutions.

The goal when choosing a cleaning method is to optimize vessel cleaning while limiting the amount of time and waste in the total cleaning cycle.

According to Andrew Delaney, executive vice president, operations, for Alfa Laval, understanding how to optimize a cleaning process requires a grasp of the basics of cleaning. Herbert Sinner, a former chemical engineer for Henkel, first summarized the basic principles of cleaning in 1959. His summary, now referred to as the “Sinner’s Circle,” describes the four factors that can be manipulated in any cleaning scenario: temperature, chemical action, time and mechanical force.

Increasing the effectiveness of any factor will result in a decrease of one or more other factors. Dishwashing provides a good example of how the four factors interact. Hot water (temperature) will remove stuck-on food better than cold water. Adding soap (chemical action) makes the process even easier, and you either can soak a dish overnight (time) or scrub it clean (mechanical force).

It’s imperative to examine the effectiveness and efficiency of your procedure — and then to apply the Sinner’s Circle to compare options. (See “Optimize Tank Cleaning.”)

To help you make correct decisions, the editors at Chemical Processing have put together a Special Report: Wash Away Your Tank Cleaning Challenges. Download it now.