Polyethylene Storage Tanks: Chemical Incompatibilities

Polyethylene, with its superior strength, lightweight durability, and cost advantages is the superior storage tank material choice for storing many chemicals. At Poly Processing, our goal is to make sure your chemical storage system is as robust and safe as possible.  When considering the risks of catastrophic failure and safety, polyethylene simply is not the best option for storing certain chemicals.

Polyethylene Storage Tanks Chemical Incompatibilities

Let’s take a look at what these chemicals are and why polyethylene isn’t the proper storage solution.

Low Flash Point Chemicals

Volatile chemicals with low flash points, 140 degrees F (flash point) or less should not be stored in polyethylene tanks. Storing these types of chemicals, like gasoline or xylene, in a polyy tank is dangerous. Because polyethylene cannot be properly grounded, static electricity generated within the tank itself can cause a serious hazard.  As a general rule most flammable liquids with low flashpoints and heavier than air vapors should only be stored in tanks made from steel or other conductive materials that can be effectively earth grounded

Questions about storing corrosive chemicals?

Similar Chemical Compound to Polyethylene

Hydrocarbon based compound materials have a similar chemical makeup to polyethylene. Chemicals such as gasoline, kerosene, alcohol, methanol, and isopropyl alcohol can potentially permeate the polyethylene material and leak through the poly tank.  Solvents can also degrade or soften polyethylene, affecting performance and durability of the poly tank.  In these instances, fiberglass or stainless steel storage tanks are smarter choices. 

See How XLPE Compares to Other Tank Materials

Polyethylene: The Ideal Storage System Material for Inorganic Acids and Bases

While polyethylene may not be the best choice for low flash point chemicals or those with a similar chemical structure to polyethylene, High Density Cross Linked Polyethylene is ideal for storing inorganic acids and bases such as sodium hypochlorite, sulfuric acid, ferrics, alums, polymers, and many other chemicals. These are chemicals commonly used in wastewater treatment and many industrial process applications. Polyethylene tanks are easy to transport and install, offer ease of maintenance, superior durability, and lifetime cost effectiveness.

Is polyethylene the right solution for your chemical storage needs? Talk to a chemical storage tank specialist for more information.

Review the compatibility of our tanks, fitting, and gaskets with over 100 different chemicals