In applications where the strength-to-weight ratio is a key consideration, fibreglass holds several advantages over metals that are hard to ignore.
Fibreglass is a composite material made from woven nylon embedded with glass fibres bonded together with a binder. The addition of glass fibres increases the tensile and mechanical strength of the material considerably, producing desirable characteristics that are enjoyed in prototyping and end-use applications.
One of these applications is fiberglass reinforced plastic tanks which are widely used in liquid storage. Fibreglass (also known as GRP) is suitable for storing a variety of chemicals and liquids to international standards (ISO).
The advantages of fiberglass reinforced plastic tanks
To understand the advantages of fibreglass reinforced plastic tanks, it’s important to understand the physical properties of fibreglass:
- Mechanical strength: As strong as steel pound-for-pound
- Tensile strength: Resists damage due to liquid pressure
- Lightweight: Typically 30% lighter than steel
- Incombustible: As a mineral material, it can’t combust
- Dimensional stability: It retains its shape with low expansion
- Chemical resistance: Offers good resistance over a wide pH range (the pH range can also be tweaked with different types of liner)
When you add these physical properties together, you get a tank that’s strong, lightweight, dimensionally stable and corrosion-resistant.
The main advantage to fibreglass plastic tanks however is the exceptional strength-to-weight ratio which outperforms steel and aluminium. It’s as strong as steel and lighter than aluminium. This is why you see supercars with fibreglass parts.
The use cases for fiberglass plastic tanks
Now you know that fibreglass tanks have a better strength-to-weight ratio than steel tanks, you might be wondering why anyone would bother with anything else.
The mistake in this train of thought is assuming fibreglass is a one-size-fits all solution to chemical storage. It isn’t. Fibreglass reinforced plastic tanks have specific use cases that are dependent on the following factors:
- The chemical(s) or liquid(s) being stored
- Containment requirements
- Mode of operation
- Design requirements (access, modifications, odour control, etc.)
Typical storage applications for fibreglass reinforced plastic tanks include:
- Water (potable and non-potable)
- Sulfuric acid
- Alkaline storage
- Petroleum, diesel and oils
It’s important to note that the resins used to manufacture the fibreglass and the liner used in the tank determines the chemicals the tank can store.
For example, fertilizer storage requires different resins in the fibreglass to acid storage and the same applies for water storage.
In terms of application, fibreglass reinforced plastic tanks:
- Are suitable for most pressure applications
- Are significantly lighter and just as strong as steel tanks
- Can replace steel tanks for a wide range of storage requirements
- Can replace concrete tanks for a wide range of storage requirements
Are fiberglass reinforced tanks right for my use case?
Fibreglass is a modern material favoured for its strength-to-weight ratio. In tanks, it offers extreme chemical resistance and outstanding performance.
When plastic on its own isn’t strong or resilient enough to deliver the performance you need, fibreglass offers improved physical properties so that you can store chemicals and liquids safely under pressure. It’s the best material for storing large quantities of water and tanks can be customised with different liners to store most chemicals.