• If applicable

Posted Tuesday, January 19th, 2021

Above ground fuel tank testing can go from one extreme to another. On one end of the spectrum suppliers are doing the bare minimum and putting tanks onto the market with little to no compliance procedures in place, only to have unhappy customers bare the brunt of this negligence going forward. On the other side of the scale you have rigorous testing, which not only creates peace of mind for the client, but ensures they have a tank that has surpassed regulations and meets requirements not only from a project standpoint but from a health, safety and environmental standpoint.

Our SuperVault above ground fuel tank compliance is conducted by the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI). SwRI  is responsible for having developed a performance evaluation procedure for above ground tanks to address the concerns of fire marshals and regulatory authorities across the US and beyond. SwRI procedure 91-03 exposes tanks to high-intensity fires, hose stream tests, ballistics and simulated impact tests. The procedure determines if the above ground fuel storage tank meets the requirements established by the following specifications.

  • Uniform Fire Code (UFC) Appendix Standard A-II-F-I
  • Underwriters Laboratories (UL2085)
  • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA30A) or;
  • Underwriters Laboratories of Canada ULC/ORD-C142

The pivotal addition to this, the icing on the cake if you will, is the SwRI 95-03 procedure, which evaluates the performance of a multi hazard tank in withstanding multiple exposures to the simulated hazards described in SwRI Procedure 95-01; while SwRI 97-04 is used to evaluate fire-resistant tanks in accordance with the latest NFPA30A edition.

In this article we discuss multi hazard testing and what this process involves. The fuel tank storage industry is constantly challenged with increasingly stringent fire and impact exposure requirements for above ground storage tanks. At Fuelchief (and our former company Advanced Fuel Tanks), we have collaborated for decades with the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio Texas who are a key body in performance testing above ground fuel tanks. As part of this process our 4-hour fire rated SuperVault  was put under the spotlight to be scrutinsed and see if it lived up to its expectations. These tests are carried out by certified and experienced members of SwRI who document the results of each test. Ongoing; the SuperVault is audited to ensure these compliances are regularly upheld.

Below is a breakdown of the multi hazard tests that the SuperVault has gone through to receive it’s SwRI 95-03 rating, the highest rating of any above ground fuel tank in the world.

Fire Exposure Test - Fuelchief SuperVault

Hazard Test 1: High Intensity Fire Exposure Test

The first test the SuperVault above ground fuel tank went through was the fire exposure test whereby it was placed in a 2,000°F  fire for two hours to determine its fire resistance. Two full scale fire exposure tests were conducted to evaluate the thermal resistance of the above ground fuel tank and supporting structural members, including protective material to withstand a rapid temperature rise fire exposure. The first test is conducted on a newly constructed, fully assembled tank for a period of 4-hours. The second test is conducted on the same fully assembled tank (after the initial 4-hour test, but it is re-furbished as deemed necessary by the field technician to represent infield practice) is for 2-hours, after it has been subjected to the 4 x hazard tests mentioned in this article.

The SuperVault was subject to temperature conditions to replicate total engulfment in the luminous flame regime of a large free burning liquid hydrocarbon fueled pool fire.  The average temperature of the furness was 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Picture: shows the SwRI largescale horizontal furnace used for the test.

Hose Stream Test - Fuelchief SuperVault

Hazard Test 2: Hose Stream Resistance Test

After the High Intensity Fire Exposure test the tank moves onto stage two which is the Post-Fire Hose Stream Resistance Test.  Here the controlled tank was subjected to the cooling, erosive and impact forces of the hose stream.

It is important to note here that there was no hose -stream test required after the second fire exposure test.

The table below shows the conditions of the hose stream test that the SuperVault tank went through:

4 hours and over, if less than 8 hours 45 (310) 5
2 hours and over, if less than 4 hours 30 (207) 2.5

Picture: shows the test tank being exposed to hose stream.

Hose Stream Test - Fuelchief SuperVault
Projectile Resistance Test

Hazard Test 3: Projectile Penetration Test

The third test in the series for a tank to achieve SwRI 95-03 certification is the Projectile Penetration Test. For this part, the tank is only considered a bullet-resistant construction when there is no penetration of the primary tank when subject to the ballistic impact of a bullet of 150-grain M-2 ball ammunition with a minimum muzzle velocity of 2,700 ft per second (823m/s) fired from a .30 calibre rifle at a distance of 100 feet (3.48m). The tank only passes this test if it is not damaged to the extent any leakage would develop or occur after 5 shots placed independently of one another.

Picture: shows the tank set up for the projectile test.

Battering Ram Test - Fuelchief SuperVault

Hazard Test 4: Heavy Vehicle Impact Test

The final test is the Heavy Vehicle Impact Test, whereby the tank (according to SwRI 93-01 and SwRI 95-03) is to withstand the impact of a 12,000 pound (5443kg) battering ram, simulating a vehicle impact at 10mph. To pass this test the primary tank was not to be damaged to the extent a leak would develop.

Picture: shows the battering ram ready to hit controlled test tank.



We hope you have found this informative and this showcases a bit more light on the process of multi-hazard testing and what our SuperVault tank has gone through to ensure it is compliant to the most rigorous global testing standards. To find out more about our SuperVault range of fuel tanks check them out here: https://fuelchieftanks.com/product-category/fuel-storage/fire-rated-tanks/


Blog article by Praneel Lal

Battering Ram Test - Fuelchief SuperVault

Keen to understand why SwRI 95-03 is important for fire-rated tanks that need to go in and around buildings? Then chat to our team today.

To find out more about the SuperVault and it's certification and what it means for your project contact Fuelchief via the link below.