A shipment of ethanol blended fuel started an expensive and frustrating period for a gas station owner in the Albany, New York area. The problem was caused by the ethanol, a solvent, taking the dirt and sludge that had built up inside the tank for more than ten years and causing it to suspend into the fuel. The suspended contaminants were dispensed along with the fuel and the station operator was soon replacing dispenser filters every 2 days with costs adding up to thousands of dollars. Customers were frustrated by the slower dispensing times and taking their business elsewhere. The station owner could not continue to live with the lost revenue.
Albany Tank Services was contacted by the owner and realized that standard tank cleaning methods such as snaking and vacuuming would not solve the problem. The amount and extent of the contamination was such that a method was needed to remove all the contaminants from the entire tank. At the same time, the station owner could not afford to resort to the expensive and time consuming process of excavating, cutting a manway, entering the tank, cleaning and resealing the manway.
Albany Tank Services in turn contacted Alfa Laval after finding an article mentioned in the PEI Journal. Together the two companies came up with a new process to clean the UST using Albany Tank’s vacuum truck and Gamajet’s new GJ 10 tank cleaning machine.
The key to the problem’s solution was the utilization of the GJ 10, which is media driven and able to fit through the standard 4” diameter tank opening. The GJ 10 projects strong jets of cleaning fluid on every part of the tank interior and uses the power of impingement cleaning to dislodge the contaminants from the tank surface. The sludge and wastewater was then pumped up into the vacuum truck for proper disposal.
While the tank cleaning machine can operate using the fuel as the cleaning media, the potential for explosion with gasoline led to the decision to use water as the cleaning solution. Albany Tank Services converted a salvaged 1000-gallon tank for use as a clean water source and added a 50 GPM, 130-psi GJ portable pump to supply the cleaning pressure. Prior to initiating cleaning, the station owner was asked to defer fuel delivery and allow the tank’s fuel level to lower.
On the day of the cleaning, all remaining fuel was pumped out using a vacuum truck, and the drop tubes and submersible pumps were removed. The tanks were pumped out and a 2” suction hose placed in the lower end of the tank. The GJ 10 was then placed in the other end of the tank using clean water as a cleaning agent. Within 10 minutes, the 12,000-gallon tank had been properly cleaned. The scoured-off waste and remaining water was pumped out of the tank. A specialized inspection camera was then used to verify that the tank had been completely cleaned. The fuel distributor delivered gas to the tanks and the station was back in business.