Total nitrogen solution for New Zealand's largest chemical tank

October 13, 2020

Turning the tide with nitrogen

New Zealand’s largest chemical storage tank inerted with the world’s most advanced nitrogen-generating membrane 

Which would you choose? Around 1 million liters of liquid nitrogen or just 1 state-of-the-art Atlas Copco nitrogen-generating membrane? When you consider how much gas is required to inert a 60m diameter chemicals storage tank, it is little wonder that our customer and main EPC contractor, Steamtech opted for the efficiency, flexibility, and reliability of our world-beating nitrogen-generating technology. Offering an unlimited supply of high-purity nitrogen wherever and whenever you need it. But as soon became apparent, those were not the only benefits during this complex tank cleaning project in the Taranaki region of New Zealand.

Stringent requirements

The industrial cleaning of oil storage tanks can be a complicated task. As well as the challenge of safely removing the slurry that builds up during a 10-year cycle, the inside must be fully inerted while cleaning, preparing, and recoating the inner surface in order to prevent corrosion. And while that sounds easy enough, strict legislation and the end-customer’s own stringent health, safety, and environmental guidelines imply a long list of constraints. The presence of hazardous fumes, for example, ruled out any human presence inside the tanks. All condensate had to be diverted into separate storage tanks to prevent oil entering the main drainage system. And special safety guidelines for working at height meant that all equipment had to be pre-slung off site.

A total solution

Given the complex logistics, safety risks and expense of liquid nitrogen, Steamtech were quickly convinced by the benefits of generating nitrogen on site. The Atlas Copco NGM 2000 nitrogen-generating membrane we ultimately proposed not only delivers an unlimited supply of nitrogen, it is also possible to adjust the pressure, flow, and purity according to each application. The membrane was driven by 4 high-pressure Atlas Copco compressors delivering approx. 4500cfm of compressed air at 24 bar and in turn, around 700cfm of nitrogen. And while capable of generating much higher levels of purity, the customer opted for an output of 97%: more than sufficient for guaranteeing optimum levels of safety and efficiency. 

Out of thin air

Extracting nitrogen from the ambient air is no magic trick. 78% of what we breathe is already nitrogen. And to boost that percentage, all it takes is a little science, some high-tech machinery, and the proven agility of the world’s most trusted service provider. In fact, once you know that Atlas Copco’s latest-generation nitrogen-generating membranes can easily deliver a constant and reliable flow of nitrogen on demand at up to 99.9% purity, it’s easy to understand why the tide is gradually turning and why generating nitrogen on site is now becoming standard industry practice. 

Being able to offer an unlimited quantity of high-purity nitrogen created enormous added value for our customer. We are the only provider in the country with the right nitrogen generators suitable for this process. And with quality equipment comes quality results.

Simon Darby , Account Manager at Atlas Copco Rentals New Zealand

Redundant redundancy

As far as the reliability of our equipment is concerned, the results of this project speak for themselves: “As a precaution, the customer also rented a backup nitrogen-generating membrane in order to ensure maximum uptime during the project,” says Simon. “However, this backup was not required; our equipment performed perfectly as we expected.”

And as for our service, the best proof of our added value is repeat business: “This is the third tank cleaning project we have worked on for this customer over the past last 12 months and as a result, both the EPC, Steamtech and Atlas Copco Rentals have become preferred suppliers for this application, with multiple projects in the pipeline.”

Which means we’ll have even more opportunities to prove just how potent a combination our renowned technology, expertise, and agility can be!

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At Atlas Copco, we have been turning industrial ideas into business-critical benefits since 1873. By listening to our customers and knowing their needs, we deliver value and innovate with the future in mind. 

Great ideas reinforce sustainable development. At Atlas Copco Specialty Rental, we team up with our customers to set up state-of-the-art temporary air, flow, steam and nitrogen solutions. Our passionate experts have extensive application and equipment knowledge. We understand our customers' needs and can provide a total solution for any industry, no matter if it is for emergencies or planned projects. We are a division of the Power Technique business area, headquartered in Boom, Belgium and offer specialty rental solutions under several brands around the globe.