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Tank breathing

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When a volatile product is stored in a freely ventilated fixed roof tank, the concentration of volatile vapors in the vapor space can vary depending on the tank operating conditions. During holding periods, when no liquid is added or removed from the tank, the vapor space comes to equilibrium conditions based on product temperature and vapor pressure.


Emissions during holding are generated by the vapor space breathing process. As a result of daily ambient heating and cooling processes or changes in barometric pressure, the air/vapor mixture in the vapor space expands and contracts.


During the daily heating process, some of the air/vapor mixture is expelled from the tank, resulting in evaporative emissions.


During product cooling, air is drawn into the vapor space and becomes saturated with product vapor from natural evaporation. The air becomes saturated with product vapors. Note that this can result in a combustible gas mixture in the vapor space, increasing the fire risk.


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See also

Oil storage

Fixed roof tanks

Vent system design for storage tanks

Floating roof tanks

Controlling liquid leaks from tanks

Site considerations for production tanks

Tank battery