Polyethylene Storage Tanks: Chemical Incompatibilities

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Polyethylene, with its superior strength, lightweight durability, and cost advantages is the superior storage tank material choice for storing many chemicals. At Poly Processing, our goal is to make sure your chemical storage system is as robust and safe as possible.  When considering the risks of catastrophic failure and safety, polyethylene simply is not the best option for storing certain chemicals.

Let’s take a look at what these chemicals are and why polyethylene isn’t the proper storage solution.

Low Flash Point Chemicals

Volatile chemicals with low flash points, 140 degrees F (flash point) or less should not be stored in polyethylene tanks. Storing these types of chemicals, like gasoline or xylene, in a polyy tank is dangerous. Because polyethylene cannot be properly grounded, static electricity generated within the tank itself can cause a serious hazard.  A grounded stainless steel or fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) chemical storage tank would be a safer storage option.

 Similar Chemical Compound to Polyethylene

Hydrocarbon based compound materials have a similar chemical makeup to polyethylene. Chemicals such as gasoline, kerosene, alcohol, methanol, and isopropyl alcohol can potentially permeate the polyethylene material and leak through the poly tank.  Solvents can also degrade or soften polyethylene, affecting performance and durability of the poly tank.  In these instances, fiberglass or stainless steel storage tanks are smarter choices. 

Polyethylene: The Ideal Storage System Material for Inorganic Acids and Bases

While polyethylene may not be the best choice for low flash point chemicals or those with a similar chemical structure to polyethylene, High Density Cross Linked Polyethylene is ideal for storing inorganic acids and bases such as sodium hypochlorite, sulfuric acid, ferrics, alums, polymers, and many other chemicals. These are chemicals commonly used in wastewater treatment and many industrial process applications. Polyethylene tanks are easy to transport and install, offer ease of maintenance, superior durability, and lifetime cost effectiveness.

Is polyethylene the right solution for your chemical storage needs? Talk to a chemical storage tank specialist for more information.