August 15, 2023

How Much Does A Tank Trailer Hold?

How Much Does A Tank Trailer Hold

A tanker trailer is a vehicle with a large tanker that transports dry bulk and liquefied cargo. Meanwhile, the Federal Motor Carrier Regulatory Agency defines tank trailers as vehicles that transport gaseous or liquid materials in a tank with an aggregate rating of over 1000 gallons and an individual rating of 119 gallons.

Tanker trailers carry a wide variety of bulk and liquefied cargo. They may transport products like vegetable oil, alcohol products, and non-food products like mineral and essential oils.

Aside from the type of cargo they carry, tank trailers can also differ in terms of their size and functionality. Each of these tanker trailers can come equipped with certain features to make transporting products safer and more convenient across large distances. For instance, some tanker trailers are fitted with a pumping system to allow fast and secure loading and off-loading liquids.

How much fuel does a tanker trailer hold, and what is its maximum capacity? Learn more about tank trailers below.


Capacity by Trailer Size: Small Trailers vs Large Tanker Trailers

Tank trailers are known for their large capacities. They are designed for hauling specific cargo and fulfilling various other service requirements. This hauling capacity is mainly controlled by its gross weight, which is set at 80,000 lbs for trucks in the United States. 

But the answer to the question “How much fuel does a tanker trailer hold?” can be more complex. This is because a tanker trailer’s hauling capacity is affected by vehicle size and the specific gravity of the liquid being hauled. 


Small Tanker Truck Capacity

Smaller tanker trucks carry smaller tanks, which also translates to lower capacities for transporting liquids. Smaller tanks typically have a carrying capacity of about 1,000 to 3,000 gallons, but some can go higher and be able to hold 3,800 – 5,000 gallons of liquid. 

Smaller tank trailers are typically used to transport liquids with higher specific gravity. These are used in short-distance hauling, like transporting cargo through and within a local community. They can sometimes be used at airports to support aircraft refueling and fuel transport operations.


Large Tanker Truck Capacity

Larger tankers have bigger tank sizes, allowing them to hold more liquid cargo. Common examples of larger tank trailers are standard chemical trailers, which can hold between 6,000 and 7,000 gallons of liquid. Some bulk liquid transport trailers can hold 8,000 gallons for transporting lighter products. 

Other tankers can carry more than 11,000 gallons and various liquids, including hazardous materials, in bulk. These tankers are often built using a sophisticated multi-compartment design, allowing haulers to transport a wide variety of liquids at the same time. These include different gasoline grades, diesel and industrial chemicals. 


Product Holding Capacity for Different Trailer Types

Different bulk materials have varying properties that must be accounted for during transportation to protect product quality and safety. For this reason, transporters use different trailer types to accommodate these unique requirements. 

But how many gallons does a semi tanker hold? These trailers can have different product holding capacities, as described below:

  • Chemical Tank Trailer: Chemical tank trailers are meticulously designed to transport hazardous materials without compromising safety. The size of these trailers varies based on the specific gravity and weight per gallon of the cargo. Smaller tanks, with capacities ranging from 3,800 to 5,000 gallons, are used for denser products, while standard chemical trailers hold between 6,000 and 7,000 gallons.
  • Crude Oil Tanker Trailer: The transportation of crude oil demands specialized trailers that can handle the unique properties of this precious liquid. These trailers have varying capacities, with some extending up to 16,800 gallons. 
  • Petroleum Fuel Tank Trailer: Petroleum fuel tank trailers are integral to keeping vehicles and industries running smoothly. With 9,000 to 9,800 gallons of capacity, these trailers offer versatility through multiple compartments, bulkheads, and unique designs. 
  • Sanitary or Food Grade Tank Trailer: Food-grade products require trailers that adhere to strict hygiene standards. Sanitary tank trailers, with capacities of around 6,000 to 7,000 gallons, stand out for their stainless steel construction and specialized finishes.
  • Storage Pig Tank Trailer: Also known as horizontal silos or guppies, they are ideal for on-site storage of dry bulk materials. These trailers boast impressive capacities of up to 500,000 lbs, ensuring a steady supply for large-scale projects. 
  • Pneumatic Tank Trailer: Pneumatic tank trailers are designed to handle dry bulk products efficiently and effectively. With volumes ranging in capacities from 500 to 1,650 cu ft, these trailers are equipped with advanced pneumatic systems that enable smooth loading and unloading while protecting cargo from moisture and contaminants.

What’s The Ideal Tank Trailer Capacity?: The 95% Rule

The answer to the question “How many gallons does a semi tanker hold?” can vary, depending on the context. But generally, it can mean the maximum holding capacity of each tanker. 

All the figures provided above are maximum values that describe the total volume of the liquid it can hold without leaving any space for air. However, this is not ideal for safety and economic reasons.

Industry regulations allow for a maximum fill of 97%, although most industry experts suggest observing a 95% filling ratio for tanks that do not have baffles. This is observed due to the following reasons:

  • Expansion and Contraction of the Bulk Liquid: Some liquids are sensitive to temperature changes and can expand or contract depending on the temperature level. The pressure inside the tank increases when there isn’t sufficient space for the liquid to expand, which can cause the tank to rupture.
  • Product Spillage: The liquid inside the tank moves around during transport. Transporters must allow sufficient space to account for this movement inside the tank to avoid spillage, negatively impacting your bottom line.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Industry regulations require transporters to leave sufficient space (5% of the tank volume) as overfill protection. Often, this requires installing overfill alarms when 95% of the tank volume is filled before transport.
  • Prevent Stress On the Tank Walls: Filling up the tank to its maximum capacity places extra strain on the tank walls, which increases the risk of mechanical or structural failure. Extra space creates a buffer region that relieves stress and prevents breakdowns.

Why Do Tank Trailers Have A Cylindrical Shape?

Tank trailers feature a cylindrical shape that offers plenty of benefits when transporting gaseous and liquid materials, which are the main types of cargo. Here are a few you should know.

  • Offers More Stability: Trailer tankers have rounded edges, which means that they don’t require a lot of reinforcement like the containers with straight sides or corners. This provides less pressure on the tank.
  • Helpful in Preventing Liquid “Surge”: The shape of the tanker allows for natural movement of liquid inside the tanker, which prevents excessive surging.
  • It’s Easy to Extract the Liquid: Given the tanker’s cylindrical design, it provides easy liquid extraction. This is because it moves towards the lower point. The design also ensures that materials don’t stick in hard-to-reach places. Given that there’s less product left after a load, there’ll be less contamination of the next load.

What You Should Know About Food Grade Liquid Trucking

These are tankers used in the transportation of consumable products. Given the nature of the product they haul, they’re insulated and feature different temperature control options. Some of the loads they carry include alcohol, vinegar, corn syrup, fruit juices, and liquid dairy products.

These trailers have a carrying capacity of 6,000 to 7,000 gallons and feature one compartment with no baffles. What distinguishes this trailer from others is that it features a 3 A finish which ensures that no product is left in any crevices. While this is the case, it’s also essential to perform tank washes to ensure the tank trailer is hygienically clean for the next delivery.

Temperature Control Options

Many insulated food-grade tank trailers feature a steam coil that you can plug into a steam source when you pack your truck. These coils circulate around your truck, maintaining the temperature of your cold-sensitive liquid.

Some truck trailers even feature piping that draws anti-freeze from the radiator then circulates it around the tanker. This ensures that the liquid doesn’t cool quickly during your journey.

Remember that before you request in-transit heat, speak to your bulk liquid carrier to ensure it’s what you require for your specific product. It avoids instances whereby the anti-freeze within the in-transit heat system is cooler than the product you’re shipping.

Loading and Off Loading Bulk Liquid

When using food tank trailers to transport liquefied cargo, the liquid will be pumped in and out of the tanker using an air compressor. This method is highly recommended because it makes less mess. If you’re transporting viscous liquids, you may need to employ air compressors and a pump. The air compressor will push the product towards the pump, which moves it through the hose.

Weight and Volume of Your Product

If you’re transporting food-grade liquid, the unit of measurement is volume. Therefore, when shipping your product, the number of gallons you plan to ship will determine whether you require one or more trucks. Weight matters in cases where you need to comply with federal regulations on weight limits.

Given the weight of your tank trailer, it’s not advisable to load more than 45,000lbs. This will help you stay within the required weight limit for tank trailers, and it won’t strain the vehicle’s axles and wheels.

The Ultimate Transport Solution

Tank trailers are of different types, and your selection should be based on the types of products you wish to haul. This guide has explored in detail the carrying capacity of each of them to aid in your selection process.

Have you have been searching for a reputable tank trailer for your transportation needs? Your search ends here! Contact us for timely, efficient, and dependable delivery of your goods.

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