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Oil Filled Tanks - Heat Loss

Heat loss from insulated and uninsulated, sheltered and exposed heated oil tanks.

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Heat transfer rates - α - for heated oil filled tanks.

Sheltered Tank

Tank TemperatureHeat Transfer Rate - α -
(oC)(oF)(W/(m2 oC))(Btu/(hr ft2 oF))(W/(m2 oC))(Btu/(hr ft2 oF))
10 50 6.8 1.2 1.7 0.3
27 80 7.4 1.3 1.8 0.33
38 100 8.0 1.4 2.0 0.35

Exposed Tank

Tank TemperatureHeat Transfer Rate - α -
(oC)(oF)(W/(m2 oC))(Btu/(hr ft2 oF))(W/(m2 oC))(Btu/(hr ft2 oF))
10 50 8.0 1.4 2.0 0.35
27 80 8.5 1.5 2.1 0.38
38 100 9.0 1.6 2.3 0.4

Heat loss transfer rate depends heavily on

  • the ambient conditions - whether it is wind, sun or raining or snowing on the external surface
  • the internal conditions in the tank - the viscosity of the oil and the internal circulation in the tank

The total heat loss from an application can in general (in SI-units) be expressed as:

Q = α A dt                                        (1)


Q = heat loss (W)

α = heat transfer rate (W/(m2 oC))

A = area (m2)

dt = temperature difference (oC)

Example - Heat Loss from an Exposed Insulated Oil Tank

The total heat loss from an insulated tank with 1000 m2 exposed surface, filled with heated oil at 38oC, surrounding temperature of 0oC and a heat transfer rate of 2.27 W/m2 oC - can be calculated as:

Q = (2.27 W/(m2oC)) (1000 m2) ((38 oC) - (0 oC))

= 86260 W

= 86.3 kW

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This page can be cited as

  • Engineering ToolBox, (2003). Oil Filled Tanks - Heat Loss. [online] Available at: [Accessed Day Mo. Year].

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