What is it about?

Crude oil, the raw material for fuels like petroleum and diesel, is stored in large containers. These are called static storage tanks. Crude oils with a high wax content, however, can form wax crystals during storage. To avoid this, the storage tanks used for these crude oils are heated. This is generally done using steam or electric power. To make the heating systems more energy efficient, it is important to study how heat moves within these storage tanks. Heat escapes from a storage tank mainly through the natural movement of air, known as convection. Many studies have explored how heat flows inside storage tanks. But these have considered crude oil to be a typical fluid, which it is not. Crude oil does not follow Newton’s laws of viscosity; hence it is a non Newtonian fluid. In this study, researchers used new theories and models to explain convection within storage tanks. They used the “fractional order theory” with the Maxwell model for non Newtonian fluids and the Cattaneo Vernotte heat transfer model. Their innovative approach offers a more flexible and accurate description of heat flow inside storage tanks.

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Why is it important?

Most countries still heavily depend on fossil fuels to meet their energy needs. Crude oil is, thus, a major resource. Its storage and transport, however, consumes a lot of energy. So, it is important to make these processes as efficient as possible. This study takes a step forward in that regard. Its findings could lead to the design of more efficient heating systems. KEY TAKEAWAY: There is an urgent need for more efficient ways to store and transport crude oil. This study provides a more accurate approach to study the movement of heat in crude oil storage tanks. It could pave the way towards more efficient storage and transport systems for crude oil.

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This page is a summary of: Study on unsteady natural convection heat transfer of crude oil storage tank based on fractional-order Maxwell model, Physics of Fluids, November 2023, American Institute of Physics,
DOI: 10.1063/5.0172017.
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