Why Do Liquid-Carrying Trucks Have Cylindrical Shaped Tankers?

You would have often seen oil or water tankers in your city & surroundings and wondered why they are in such cylindrical shape? Why these tankers only have a cylindrical shape but not cubical or some ideal box based shape?

A vehicle that is designed to carry liquefied loads like water, highly pressurized gases or oil is called a ‘tank truck’. There are many types of tank trucks in terms of their size, insulation, pressure holding capacity and type of liquid that is transported in them. There are many benefits of a tank truck having such a cylindrical shape. The reasons are listed below:


  • Greater Stability

A transport vehicle carrying liquids like liquefied flammable gases and oils needs utmost stability to transport them safely because the liquid has a property of agility. For the commute to happen successfully, the correct shape of tanker matters a lot.

The shape of tanker should have a low center of gravity and this can be attained only through a cylindrical-shaped tanker. The rectangular or square shaped tankers have comparatively a high center of gravity, which risks the vehicle’s stability.

  • No weak points

A cylindrical-shaped container doesn’t have structural weak points that require reinforcing. In fact, a rectangular or a square shaped container has corners and flat sides that can easily break under high pressure. It means conventional rectangular container will lead to failure over time quicker than a cylindrical container.

  • Sloshing liquid

When a tanker accelerates or de-accelerates, the liquid in the tank sloshes around due to the law of inertia i.e., “a body at rest remains at rest and a body in motion continues to move until an opposite external force acts on it”. The phenomenon of sloshing is called as ‘surge’. To reduce the surge effect while slowing down or accelerating during the travel, the tankers have metal sheets placed inside them that reduce the to-and-fro surging of liquid. That’s why experienced drivers maintain a habit of slowing down or accelerating their tanker trucks smoothly.

Moreover, a spherical container counters the surging of liquid better as compared to other shapes.

  • Extraction of liquid

A cylindrical container is most favorable in extracting the liquid from the truck in an easier way than the other shaped containers. This is because the liquid gets funneled down to bottom of a cylindrical tank and even the least of drops flow out. On the other hand, a rectangular tank would not allow the movement of liquid at the vent point and all the time some amount of product will always be left behind.

  • Maintenance

A cylindrical container is easier to clean than any rectangular container because in a box-shaped tank the traces of liquid will get stuck at the corners and eventually be harder to remove. A cylindrical container contains no such corners, therefore their cleaning is easy.


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