Fiberglass tanks are defined as enclosures made from fiberglass reinforced plastic, or FRP, and used primarily for storage purposes. FRP can also be defined as glass reinforced polymers, glass-reinforced plastic, or just fiberglass.
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Applications of Fiberglass Tanks
Fiberglass is highly versatile, making it the material of choice for a variety of applications spanning a wide range of commercial and consumer industries. Aside from tanks, fiberglass can also be used to make various enclosures such as tubs, boxes, and cases.
Advantages of Fiberglass Tanks
In addition to its versatility, fiberglass is a popular construction material due to its low strength-to-weight ratio and resistance to factors such as corrosion, extreme weather conditions, and harsh chemicals. It is also less expensive compared to other materials, and is highly customizable. Because tanks are often used to contain harmful chemicals, fiberglass is a recommended and valuable material to do the job.
Process of Fiberglass Tanks
One of the most popular methods of fabricating fiberglass tanks is centrifugal molding. The process involves heating a thermoplastic resin to a liquid state, and spraying the catalyzed resins saturated with shortened glass fibers layer by layer into a spinning mold. Layers are added until the intended thickness is achieved. After the layers are added and the tank has taken the desired shape, the heat is reduced and the tank is left to cool and cure, or harden. Once hardened, the newly-formed fiberglass tank is extracted from the mold. Manufacturers of FRP tanks may put their products through a dry-heat post cure to further increase the tank’s hardness and thus lengthen the tank’s service life.
Design of Fiberglass Tanks
Fiberglass tanks can be constructed in a wide range of shapes and sizes, some of which are capable of storing as much as 300 tons. Substances that are often stored in fiberglass tanks include water, herbicides, granulated solid materials such as fertilizer and grains, and pesticides. FRP has a high level of tensile strength and is resistant to compression, making fiberglass tanks capable of storing substances of various properties for extended periods of time. Water treatment, automotive, chemical, and petroleum are just a few of the industries that utilize fiberglass tanks extensively in their day-to-day applications.
Regardless of the size, the shape, the composition, or their ultimate use, all fiberglass tanks are alike in that they are made of thermosetting resin that is reinforced by glass fibers. In constructing fiberglass tanks, dyes and pigments can be added to the material. Both the overall design of the tank and the mixture of the resin and additives determine how effective the fiberglass tank will be in any particular situation.
- In manufacturing fiberglass tanks, there are many customization options available depending on the manufacturer. Tanks can either be open top, or come with flat or domed covers. Manufacturers can also make the top removable or integral. The tops of the tanks can be flat or domed. Manways are an available accessory that comes in various shapes and can be installed on either the side or the top of the tank to ensure easier access.
- The tank bottoms can be flat, conical, or dished, depending on the material it contains and the desired functions of the tank. A conical bottom is recommended for tanks whose contents require mixing, and/or whose contents are hazardous chemicals and must be completely emptied of its contents. Dish bottoms are also recommended for tanks that require complete drainage and also allow for mixing. To support cone and dish bottom tanks, either steel legs or fiberglass skirts are available to support them.
- Depending on the material that needs to be mixed, fiberglass tanks can be equipped with mixer mounts and different types of blades. Consulting with an experienced manufacturer is the key to acquiring a tank with the exact features you need.
Variations of Fiberglass Tanks
Tanks are also available in stainless steel and other plastic materials such as concrete, poly, and steel. The material that you ultimately choose from depends on the contents and the desired function of the tank. Concrete is a strong and protective material, especially for tanks that are meant to be buried underground. However, concrete is not watertight, is prone to corrosion, and can take days to install. Polyethylene is a highly recommended material for a storage tank because of its seamless design and corrosion resistance.
However, poly tanks are not as well suited for underground functions as fiberglass. Fiberglass is more capable of withstanding more drastic burial depths and other burial conditions such as groundwater table. Finally, steel is very strong, but is highly susceptible to rust and corrosion and can weigh up to four times the weight of fiberglass. Therefore, fiberglass tanks can be easily installed and handled in a wider range of locations.