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Need help heating/pumping Six Oil

Hardworker Member Posts: 4
I have an 250k gallon above ground storage tank with around 20K gallons thick six oil. The tank has no internal heating system and I need to pump the oil out of the tank.

Can anyone recommend a portable submersible heating system I can drop in the tank or a product a can add to make the six oil more pumpable?

Thanks in advance.


  • heatpro02920
    heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    edited April 2014
    Is this just a 1 time project?

    They make heaters, and I am surprised there is no heater already in the tank.. Years ago we had to pump 5500 gallons of 4 oil out of a tank into a trailer tanker, the tank had heaters in disrepair, and its pumping system was long gone, the oil had been there for a long time and the building was sold and the tanks had to be emptied and removed before they would close...

    Im not sure how legal it was or how safe but we heated the tank with propane and k1 bullet heaters, monitoring the temps to make sure we didnt get near the flash point, which we never came close to, I think 4 oil is 140 degrees and 6 oil is 150 degrees..

    Thats a big tank to heat up, I would schedule to pump it out on a hot day, a nice 95 degree sunny day will make it much easier to heat that oil the few degrees needed to deal with the viscosity issues it is prone to. I don't envy you for this task, just thinking about the smell of that fuel turns my stomach...
  • Hardworker
    Hardworker Member Posts: 4
    reply to heatpro

    Thanks heatpro. It is a one time deal.

    What I'm wondering is do they make submersible heaters or heating coils which I could put in the tank. There's a man way I could remove to do so.

    I thought about waiting for a hot day six oil is still bad, especially if you are dealing with a lot of sludge and I'm not sure how much of it is sludge. I really need a portable heating system I can use.

    Any advice is appreciated.
  • heatpro02920
    heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    edited April 2014
    I dont know of anything like that

    Like I said I would wait for a hot day {after a week of hot days}, and put a couple million btus of propane heaters under and around the tank, watch the temps... you can get trash can heaters that are around 200k btus each for $100 or so, 10 of them should be more than enough to get you up to 110 degrees on a 90 degree day...

    We have done it, one thing to watch is the temp, we learned the hard way that as the oil pumped out it continued to heat up even after the units were shut off, we had the tank very close to the flash point, but no tragedies happened so all was well...

    May be best to call a pro and have it dealt with, Im sure DEM would have a field day if there were no hazmat pros in the yard while this was taking place...

    Im not sure what your budget is, what the tank looks like or anything like that but what you are looking for is an Immersion heater, they are normally electric Omega, chomolox, indeeco, and a hundred other companies make and sell them, but they are not cheap, for 1 time use I would be looking into other ways to get it done...

    Like I said I am not sure what you have at your disposal, we just know the end game, you have a monster tank, with A LOT of the worst oil in the world to deal with inside it. If someone approached me with this task, they would most likely pass out at the price tag it commanded...

    But for getting it done there are a ton of options, you can heat the outside of the tank, you can get electric submersibles, you can drown tubing and run hot water through it.. I think the cheapest way to do it would be to wait for a hot day {let the sun do the bulk of the work} and drown a bunch of hose tubing in the tank put a pump in that tubing {outside the tank} and a bunch of the tubing outside on the ground in the sun, let the sun heat it and circulate through the tubing and back though the tank and back through the solar tubing, its gonna take a while....

    LOL, let me know if that works, I am curious..
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    I was thinking tubing

    with a trailer-mounted boiler, perhaps a rental. On a hot day.

    http://www.jmesales.com/ sells a lot of useful stuff, but 20k gallons is a lot of mass.
  • heatpro02920
    heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    edited April 2014
    swei thats because we are fitters, lol

    hydronics is my go to remedy for almost any problem...

    But imagine the mess it will be cleaning all that tubing............... I wonder what the best way to figure out how much tubing and temp you would need to raise that kind of mass 2 degrees an hour, I was thinking with the sun heating up some tubing and a simple pump moving the fluid it would be almost free and just time consuming and messy... just get a couple thousand foot coils of radiant tubing, and a little pony pump to circulate it, let the sun do its job on a hot day with no clouds that water will get so hot the pex will fall into the oil and it will be boiling in no time.. there is no boiler stronger than the sun..
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Pumping #6:

    First off, have you checked with your liability insurance carrier to see if you are covered for a project like this? It's like roofing or painting off of ladders.

    A 250K gallon tank is no small tank. In New England in January, it becomes an asphalt tank. I don't understand how they could get product consistently out of that tank when it is 10 degrees and blowing 40 MPH from the NW without heat. Was there some form of powerhouse with a boiler that burned that stuff in a big boiler? I did a lot of work in a power plant that had stationary diesels that ran on #6 and all the storage tanks had heaters so they could get cold product to day tanks where they really controlled the temperature at the pour point.

    We all love a challenge. Challenges are how we learn. We also learn that challenges are risky. There are companies who specialize in this stuff. What is the extent of what they want you to do? Who is going to cart off the oil? Who is going to clean up the mess in the tank? Is there a "roof" in the tank to stop evaporation and loss of product? If there's one of those in there, you really have a mess. Did you talk to any tank salvage companies? They are experienced in this. It is really a specialty task.

    Please let inquisitive minds know how this plays out.
  • Hardworker
    Hardworker Member Posts: 4

    Thanks. I'm thinking over the side heaters you mention might be an option. Its in the budget so I'm not worried about that.

    The oil is close to the man way so we could drop one in. My only concern would be safety. We've emptied tanks like this before but never this much six oil.

    Your advice to wait for a hot day is good. Time to do some planning. Thanks.

    If you think of anything else, let me know.
  • Hardworker
    Hardworker Member Posts: 4

    Thanks. Good advice on the tank salvage companies. Will keep you posted.
  • heatpro02920
    heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    Smart to wait for the rite weather

    Don't rule out the power of the sun, the tubing idea and small pump would no doubt heat that tank, I have seen solar pool heater array that could boil the water in the jacuzzi, it got so hot the tubing flattened out and stopped the flow, sunny 85 degree new england day, tried to pick up the tubing with a stick and it was just stretching around the stick... They had to cool it with garden hoses...