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Riveted Storage Tanks Deserving a New Lease on Life with Veggie Plastic

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Most of us have probably gazed at an old metal bridge especially, or an old oil tank, and admired the neat rows of rivets providing so much strength and integrity for these structures.

The history of riveting dates back close to 5,000 years to the Bronze Age when they were used as a joining element in tools and works of art such as jewellery. Later the Vikings would use rivets in the 7th and 8th Centuries to hold their fast wooden craft together as they sailed through rough seas on raiding parties.

But from about the 1840s through to the 1930s, this was the heyday for the traditional rivet as the developed world used them widely in the industrial revolution from boiler tanks, bridges, ships, locomotives, buildings and, of course, the early tanks used in the First World War.

Riveting was a highly skilled and often a brutal job with red hot rivets flying through the air to be caught in a bucket and picked up in tongs prior to being hammered into place. It generally took a four-man crew for instance to rivet and erect a steel girder.

The aircraft industry, where the need for light weight combined with strength was an absolute, saw the introduction of aluminum rivets. The US wartime aircraft industry was the zenith of skill and productivity epitomised by the legendary ‘Rosie the Riveter’ character.

But change was inevitable, the advancements in iron and steelmaking technology had improved the basic rivet, but it also spelled its demise as superior strength bolts were introduced that did not require same skill levels or crewing densities as traditional riveting.

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Today, those old riveted bridges, storage tanks and structures are still among us but time and elements are taking their toll and the army of riveters are long gone.

The riveted tanks are now facing additional challenges especially with the massive increase in shale oil and gas fracking activity. Often the oil is sourer and may contain several acid types. They may even be exposed to frack fluids, many of which are highly corrosive and can eat through unprotected steel in a matter of weeks or even days.

Castagra Products CEO, Peter Roosen, commented, “Old riveted oil tanks are, to use an analogy, a bit like pensioners. Plenty of life and productivity left in them as long as they are cared for and free of stress. In the case of riveted tanks, and all old tanks for that matter, there’s plenty of life too in them provided its understood that today’s oil and gas business is not what it used to be like.

“The fracking business has skyrocketed. Tanks that once often handled only a few storage cycles, are now being pressed back into service with harsher contents that can do real damage fast. And, remember, a riveted tank has literally hundreds of potential corrosion points of entry if the rivets are very old.

“Our Ecodur, a non-toxic, non-solvent, non-VOC veggie plastic, is making great strides within the tank industry because once applied after suitable prepping, it sticks phenomenally to iron and steel and yet retains a degree of flexibility that prevents it from micro-cracking unlike conventional epoxy coatings,” stated Roosen.

Furthermore, there is no time limit to remedial work and touch-ups, again unlike epoxies.

“You can really spray Ecodur into every nook and tiny cranny as well as cover cleaned up pitting and small holes.”

Roosen said that Ecodur is suitable right across the board for all riveted structures, including ships. “We have a 20-year plus history as a ship deck coating on one of the largest ferry fleets in the world. Frankly almost nothing is tougher than a marine environment. We have even had the coating submerged in salt water for over two decades and have been unable to measure any degradation.

“There is though one tougher environment that a ship’s deck and that’s inside a frack tank and we have FracShield, a two coating combo coating that is out-performing every else in the market place.”

Roosen said that riveted structures should enjoy an extended life for decades if not centuries to come. “Some, such as old bridges are a monument to the height of the industrial age when men stood on girders often hundreds of feet above ground or water, risking their lives as they handled the hot rivets and jack-hammered away.

“So when you see an old riveted oil tank, don’t just see it as a somewhat scruffy old, simple container. Think of it as something that still holds the life blood of the modern industrial age – oil, and how it also represents being part of America’s new energy renaissance that will fuel our economy for decades to come without fear of outside interference of our oil and gas supplies from hostile acts.”