Carbon steel, in both low carbon and high carbon contents, are used in many tank applications. As such, over time there have been several myths concerning the material that have become common. When a failure or leak does occur, it is more often the result of some other factor than the specific composition of the used material. However, this has not prevented the common myths from being perpetuated across the spectrum of different applications. By far, the most common myths concerning carbon steel is that is can not be used at low temperatures, high operating pressures and is highly susceptible to moisture intrusion or to oxidation.
Low Temp Carbon Steel
Some of the myths surrounding carbon steel do not even come from its application as a tank material, but from high profile failures in other settings such as the Titanic disaster and more. Importantly, carbon steel comes in a wide range of strengths and alloys that remove some of the perils associated with low temperatures. While it is true that standard or basic carbon steel can become brittle at low temperatures, the carbon steel used in tank or vessel fabrication is of a different type or quality that accounts for the differential in temperatures in the external environment.
High Pressure Steel
Carbon steel alloys are more than capable of handling extreme pressures both in operation and off load periods. Modern milling and rolling technologies provide for an even internal crystallized structure that previously could not be achieved. This allows the carbon steel and alloys the ability to withstand high pressures without suffering from failure points brought by the improper internal arrangement of the elements in the steel. Thus not only can the new varieties of steel handle higher pressures, they can withstand higher temperatures as well.
Uncoated carbon steel is highly susceptible to oxidizing in a range of environments, even with little atmospheric moisture content. In contrast, tank and vessel fabricators have access to a very wide range of coatings and applications that not only prevent oxidation but will eliminate moisture intrusion of all types. Thus making this material available in settings that would have previously been a concern.Carbon steel is an efficient and cost effective material for tank and vessel construction. One that is capable of withstanding high pressures and temperatures and can be made resistant to the detrimental effects of oxidation and moisture intrusion.