Chemical Tanker Guide Online


Tank cleaning methods onboard chemical tankers

The tanks of Chemical Tankers may be constructed or coated with various different types of materials and it is important to check with the P&A manual and the Paint Manufacturers Coating Resistance list prior to commencing Tank Cleaning Operations in order to ascertain the tank coating materials and any limitations with regards to temperature, use of cleaning chemicals etc which may be applicable to the vessel.



Cleaning of tanks is usually the responsibilty of the ship. Tank cleaning and the cleanliness involved have different standards depending upon the previous cargo and the cargo to be loaded. But the matter can be still more complicated, as cleanliness for one and the same product may vary, depending on who the receiver is and for what purpose the cargo is finally intended.

Examples: glycol intended for cosmetics or pharmaceutical purposes requires cleaner and completely odourless tanks than does glycol intended for antifreezes; caustic soda for making paper is more sensitive to iron contamination than caustic soda for the aluminium industry.

Modern Chemical tanker tank cleaning process

Fig: Modern Chemical tanker tank cleaning process using steam spray

It must be mentioned first that the majority of cleaning operations on board chemical tankers are being carried out by means of water washing only. Further chemical cleaning is required for only a limited number of cargoes, but these cases may be very important.

One must take into consideration the nature of the previous cargo and the cargo to be loaded, time factor, available equipment and cleaning chemicals etc.It is stated the necessary degree of cleanliness for a number of products, in line with what cargo surveyors normally require.

Generally speaking one should use mechanical tank cleaning methods, that is usually washing with water, before applying more expensive methods involving chemical cleaning agents. The most expensive, and least safe, method is manual cleaning, which should be kept to a minimum. Manual work should preferably be reduced to inspection and possibly to a final drying up of washing water only.

It is important to drain the tanks as much as possible in order to deliver all cargo and to reduce pollution of the seas to an absolute minimum. This will now be even more important with the anti-pollution Convention of 1973

Examples on measures on how to obtain the best possible cargo stripping:

i) Due regard to ship's trim and heel.

ii) Viscous cargoes may first be stripped from the various tanks to one tank near the pump room and from there be pumped ashore.

iii) Keep the cargo temperature sufficiently high so that the cargo drains also from remote corners of the tanks, especially in cold climates.

iv) Waxy deposits under the heating coils can sometimes be melted out be means of filling with water and then applying heat to the coils.

v) Sometimes steaming is allowed during discharge of molasses, which facilitates draining of molasses from the bulkheads.

vi) Vegetable oil tanks may in the last phase of discharge be recirculated and hosed down with vegetable oil taken from the cargo pump delivery side . Similarly phosphoric acid can be recirculated to loosen sediments on the tank bottom.

vii) Drain cargo piping to shore. It is useful to have a small stripping pump with 50 mm delivery line to the hose con