Episode #3 – Cleaning inside the tank by thinking outside the box

Sometimes, complex chemical reactions don’t go quite as planned. In the case you’ll hear about today, a reaction that took place inside an 8,000-gallon tank — one about the size of a gasoline tanker you’d see driving — got especially sticky.

The reaction was supposed to yield a liquid, but after a drum of material was added, the liquid chemical slowly turned solid, clogging the entire tank. As our guest Tom Held talks about today, there’s quite a bit of pressure when things go awry for a chemical plant like this. In addition to hiring a company like ERC Midwest to come on the scene, the chemical company also has to factor in profits lost each day the reactor is down, creating a real sense of urgency.

Tom is a Project Manager here at ERC Midwest, and he’s solved quite a few complex waste solutions in his day. In this particular situation, he saved our client massive amounts of time and money by thinking outside the box.

Normally, Tom describes the process for something like this as creating a “violent environment” for the workers that have to clear out the reactor. There’s one way in and one way out, and the guys are placed carefully inside with a breathing lifeline and a shotgun, a cleaning tool with about the same kickback as a Winchester 1897. Add in the amber-colored solid material flying around everywhere, and you’ve got yourself a pretty dangerous situation filled with many risk factors.

Lucky for us and our client, Tom took a step back and saw that something could be done differently. He came up with a unique solution that didn’t require any guys in the tank, mitigating risk, and saved a bunch of time in the process. What was Tom’s solution? You’ll have to tune in and find out!

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