NPD and innovation critical to driving progress in the tank cleaning sector

NPD and innovation critical to driving progress in the tank cleaning sector

23 June 2023 by Sinead Little

The oil and gas sector is faced with complex challenges, including stringent safety and environmental regulations and the need to optimise operational efficiency. Innovative solutions can lead to safer more effective and environmentally friendly cleaning processes and a reduction in waste materials.

New product development facilitates the introduction of advanced technologies and cutting-edge equipment that can minimise risk, reduce costs and downtime while protecting asset integrity. Recent innovations such as Zone 0 robotic cleaning systems, automated inspection tools, and drone-based monitoring devices have enhanced operational accuracy, streamlined maintenance procedures and most importantly, protect workers from entering hazardous, confined space situations where they are exposed to toxic materials.

Oil Terminal operators are also keen to recover any oil contained in the sludge residue as the revenue generated from the recovered oil could help to cover some the cost of the cleaning operation. Embracing new product development and innovation in tank cleaning and maintenance allows oil terminal operators to enhance their overall performance, sustainability, and competitiveness in their sector.

One area that has seen significant improvements in recent times is the cleaning of crude oil tanks. Traditionally, tank cleaning operations were hazardous, time-consuming and labour intensive, requiring men to physically enter tanks to remove oil sludge and toxic materials. However, with the advent of Re-Gen Robotics, Ex Zone 0 rated robots and tankers the safety, speed and efficiency of crude oil tank cleans have been dramatically enhanced by up to 40-70% times faster.

Re-Gen Robotics was recognised with the Safety Technology Award at the 2020 Global Tank Storage Awards, for revolutionising safety in the tank terminal industry. We were commended for ‘adding an additional layer of safety to oil terminals and eliminating the risk of injury or death to employees in the surrounding area’.

In December 2021, our company was recognised with three awards at the Energy Industries Council Awards, including the Innovation Award, the Sustainability Award, and the prestigious Company of the Year Award.

We’re currently building on the successes of our robotic equipment with two notable NPD projects which focus on increasing the speed and efficiency of desludging heavy crude tanks and reclaiming as much valuable hydrocarbon material from the crude sludge as possible.

The team is working on new cleaning heads for our ATEX robots including a steam injection head and mixed injection systems which allow operators to use not just cutting agent and hot water in order to improve the pumpability of oily sludges, but also the injection of steam.

Mixed injection systems combine the use of cutting agents, hot water, and steam to break down and liquefy oil sludges, making them easier to pump out. When mixed with hot water and steam, they create a powerful combination that can penetrate the sludges, reducing their viscosity and improving pumpability. This enables the robot operators to remove the sludges more efficiently, reducing the overall cleaning time, allowing for faster turnover of tanks and increased productivity.

This is particularly advantageous in situations where tanks need to be cleaned rapidly for maintenance, inspection, or repair purposes. The amount of waste generated during tank cleaning is also significantly reduced. This helps in minimising the environmental impact associated with the disposal of large volumes of sludge.

The disposal of waste generated during oil tank cleaning operations has long been a challenge for the industry. However, Re-Gen Robotics is preparing to implement a vertical centrifuge system which will enable our tank cleaning crews to separate solids and liquids effectively. This approach not only reduces the waste volume for disposal but also enables the recovery of viable hydrocarbon materials that can be utilised by our clients.

The vertical centrifuge system is a highly efficient and automated solution designed specifically for the separation of solids and liquids in the tank cleaning process. It will bring several benefits to our oil tank cleaning operations by significantly reducing waste volume, allowing for the efficient removal of the bulk of the waste. This reduces the environmental impact associated with waste management and lowers disposal costs for terminal operators.

Recovering viable hydrocarbon materials is a key advantage of the vertical centrifuge system. It not only provides economic benefits but also contributes to the circular economy by reducing reliance on virgin hydrocarbon sources.

As the industry continues to focus on environmental sustainability and resource optimisation, the adoption of new innovations and advanced technologies will play a vital role in achieving these goals.

Our tank cleaning robotic solutions are transforming the oil and gas industry, minimizing risk, and reducing costs and downtime while protecting asset integrity and the environment.

For further information on safe, smart, efficient tank cleaning, visit

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