What is Tank Sludge and how to Prevent it?


For the smooth operation of industries and manufacturing units, oil tanks are crucial. Although oil tanks are vital for industries, they are often neglected. For many, tank maintenance and its upkeep is not on the top of the priority list. Although tank inspections should be carried out regularly, most industries call the API tank inspection profession only when there is a problem. When oil storage tanks are not well maintained, many issues, like the formation of fuel sludge, corrosion, and water contamination and leakage can occur. Fuel sludge is the most common problem that leads to degradation of oil quality and wastage of storage capacity.

Besides this, fuel sludge may lead to leakage of oil, which can further cause environmental hazards and threaten wildlife. The cost of cleaning the sludge and refining waste oil is also high and requires professional assistance. Given how problematic tank sludge can be, it’s best to take timely action. There are various methods used to treat tank sludge and restore the quality of the oil.

In this post, we will throw some on tank sludge and discuss it in detail.

 What is tank sludge, and how do they form?

Before digging dipper into tank sludge, it’s essential to know what it is and how it forms in the first place. In most cases, the cause of tank sludge is any contamination in the oil. Anything from minor rust to dirt or oxidation of hydrocarbons can be the start of sludge formation. Water contamination is another primary reason for tank sludge formation.

When water seeps inside the oil tank and contaminates it, microbes start to form in the fuel. When bacteria grow, they sink and settle below the oil tank. Since it’s hard to see the sludge from above, only professional API certified inspectors can identify its location.  

There are various signs of sludge formation in the tank. There are many symptoms of tank sludge from a corroded tank layer to a darker area at the bottom of the oil tank. If you suspect there is tank sludge, it’s best to call professional inspectors to determine the extent of the contamination and quick removal of the sludge.

How to prevent fuel tank sludge?

Removing fuel sludge and refining fuel is a cost-intensive and time-consuming task. Moreover, if fuel sludge is not dealt with in time, it can result in oil leakage and other hazards. Thus, it’s best to keep a check on fuel and tank at regular intervals.

Various effective methods prevent the formation of fuel sludge and ensure the good quality of the oil.

Clean the tank: Cleaning the oil tank is the best way to prevent the formation of sludge. However, cleaning the oil tank requires professional expertise. It’s recommended to get the storage tank cleaned by professionals annually.

Replace the tank: If the tank has poorly eroded, it’s best to replace the tank. Moreover, maintaining a corroded tank is more costly in the long run as compared to replacing the oil tank.