ITS – Tank Cleaning Guide

As an experienced hygienic equipment supplier, we have seen first-hand how important it is to select the right product to meet the requirements of an individual plant, and not rely on a solution that ‘might’ do the job. When it comes to tank cleaning, at Industrial Trading Solutions Ltd we use our decades of expertise and technical knowledge to recommend and supply equipment focused on superior cleaning, with reduced cycle times and optimum water, energy and chemical consumption, that fits with exacting customer needs.

The automated cleaning of tanks and vessels is a common process in a wide range of industries. The sheer variety of residues, environments and tank sizes that need cleaning warrants an equally wide range of tank cleaning nozzle.

To help you make an informed decision before making a purchase, this is the ITS Guide to Tank Cleaning.

Types Of Tank Cleaner

Our range is divided into three main classes of tank cleaner plus additional technology.

1- Static. These are either very wide angle spray nozzles or manifolds of multiple nozzles. The most common type of static cleaner in this class are spray balls.

2- Rotary Spray. These cleaning heads spin under the fluid pressure and this rotation allows for a more directed spray to be distributed omni-directionality. The motion, combined with the more directed spray gives these heads a far greater scrubbing action than static nozzles.

3- Rotary Jet Cleaners. These cleaning heads have 2 or more nozzles that produce powerful straight jets of fluid. These impact on the surface of the tank blasting away tough residues. The nozzles will rotate in two dimensions over a set cleaning cycle so that the cleaning jets are brought to bear on each part of the tank.

4- Shadow Cleaning Technology – The adjustable nozzles of the PlusClean thoroughly clean shadow areas, including underneath agitator blades, coils and connections. Changeovers, whether batch or continuous processing, are safer, faster and contamination free due to an even more efficient cleaning cycle. This translates into higher productivity while using far less resources. Pairing the PlusClean with any top-mounted tank cleaning device saves money and resources.

Watch the video here to see how the PlusClean works:

Selecting A Tank Cleaner

A number of factors need to be considered when selecting the correct tank cleaning machine.

1- The Size Of Tank. The size of the tank will dictate strongly which cleaners can be deployed. Each nozzle/machine will have an upper limit to its effective cleaning radius and so as tanks get larger the choice of cleaning head becomes more limited. Tanks above about 10 metres in diameter can only really be cleaned well by rotary jet cleaners for example.

2- Residue Type. Some residues simply require a rinse with water to remove them. Others require considerable impact to dislodge them from the tank wall. Typically harder residues will necessitate the use of impingement tank cleaners like the Orbitor range.

3- The Tank Environment. Corrosive or hot tanks may dictate heavily which type of tank cleaning nozzles can be deployed in the vessel. In particular this will dictate the material of construction.

4- Obstructions In The Tank. Baffles, agitators and other internal structures may block the fluid of tank cleaners. This may necessitate the deployment of multiple machines.


Choosing A Tank Washing System

Adequate coverage and effective scrubbing are of prime importance in bottle, drum, and tank washing.

Choosing from the variety of tank washing nozzles can be confusing.

When selecting nozzles / machines you should consider the following factors: size and shape of vessel to be cleaned, vessel opening, type of material to be removed, and spray coverage.

Size and Shape of Vessel to be Cleaned

The nozzles and machines in this brochure can be used to clean, wash, and rinse every size of vessel from small bottles, moderately sized process tanks, to large swimming pool sized tanks.

Static nozzles will have a limited coverage and produce little impact but have the advantage of being cheap and very robust as they have no moving parts.

Rotary spray balls like the HWS and HWP give greater coverage and moderate impact so they can clean larger vessels up to 7.9 metres in diameter. They are also able to clean tougher residues and will use less water to do so.

Rotary jet cleaners can have jets over 20 metres in length meaning a centrally mounted unit could clean a 40m diameter tank. They will also be deployed in small and mid-sized tanks to clean really tough residues.

The Cleaning Mix

Effective tank cleaning consists of 4 elements: chemical action, time, mechanical action and heat. Each of these element contributes a certain amount of “cleaning power” in any given tank cleaning operation. An increase in one element means other elements can be reduced without compromising overall cleaning. Conversely a reduction in any given element must be compensated for by a corresponding increase in one or more of the other elements if cleaning is to be maintained. The relative contributions of each element varies considerably depending on which type of tank cleaning head or nozzle is deployed. These are illustrated in the sinner circle diagrams shown below.

Water Consumption

Water consumption is driven by both the time element and the chemical element. The longer a tank cleaning system is running for then it is obvious that more water will be used. Water is known as a universal solvent, meaning it will dissolve more substances than any other chemical.

As such it is an important component of the chemical part of the cleaning mix. Often, in fact, it is the only chemical used and so makes up the entire chemical component. So the overall water consumption will depend on how much cleaning power is derived from the chemical and time parts of the mix.

Optimising Tank Cleaning

Optimising a tank cleaning system will depend very much on the residue and nature of the tank. The sinner circles for each system are a good place to start. The relative cost of each element should be assessed and then consideration can be given to the optimal mix. Increasing a cheaper element means a more expensive other element can be reduced thus improving efficiency. So, for example, reducing the cost of heating will mean either more time, chemicals or mechanical action will need to be increased.

Saving Water

Reducing water consumption is often a key driver for many businesses. Water is a costly resource. Not only does it need to be purchased it also needs to be pumped and then disposed of once contaminated. As discussed above the water consumption of any tank cleaning system is primarily a function of the time and chemical action elements. So if water reduction is a goal, it follows that the mechanical action and / or the heat element will need to be increased.

Tank Washer Selection

Generally speaking the rotary jet cleaners will be more water efficient than rotary spray and static systems. This is because the mechanical action element of these tank cleaners is so much higher than other types of tank cleaner. However smaller tanks simply may not be able to accommodate larger rotary jets cleaners. In addition, lighter residues may only need relatively light cleaning and so impact jet cleaners will actually be wasteful. As with most real world applications there are always exceptions to the rules but nonetheless the following rules of thumb can be applied to tank cleaning selection.

1 – For tanks smaller than 1 metre in diameter with medium to light residues static nozzles will probably be the most efficient.

2- For tanks between 1 and 3 metre in diameter with light residues rotary spray balls will probably be most efficient.

3- For tanks between 1 and 3 metres in diameter with medium or tough residues fast cycle rotary jet cleaners like the Orbitor Eco will probably be most efficient.

4- For tanks above 3 metres, even with light residues, rotary jet cleaners will probably be the most efficient.

5- For very tough residues, regardless of tank size, rotary jet cleaners will be the most efficient.

6- For tanks above 6 metres in diameter rotary jet cleaners are the only viable option as only they can reach the sides.

With certain tank cleaning selections, Industrial Trading Solutions Ltd are able to provide you with a working simulation of the cleaning pattern within your specified tank, so that you can be absolutely sure you have made the right choice.

The simulation gives information on wetting intensity, pattern mesh width and cleaning jet velocity. This information is used to determine the best location of the tank cleaning machine and the correct combination of flow, time and pressure to implement.

A demo containing different cleaning simulations covering a variety of applications can be used as reference and documentation for tank cleaning applications – it is also free and available upon request.

We offer a broad range of tank washing nozzles and machines, delivering quality, reliability, flexibility and value to a diverse range of applications. Take a look at our range brochure here:

Tank Cleaning Brochure

Or Visit our Website: Tank Equipment for a Wide Variety of Constructions (