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Tank containers shrink the world


It is no exaggeration to say that the tank container has revolutionized freight transport. From humble origins, the ISO tank container industry spans the globe and numbers more than half a million units.

Tank containers are used to transport a wide range of cargoes including gases, powders, liquids and other hazardous and non-hazardous loads. The majority are constructed from stainless steel, mostly Type 316, containing 2% molybdenum. A typical container has a capacity of 25,000 liters and a maximum gross weight of 34 tonnes, with the tank secured inside a rectangular steel frame made to International Organization for Standardization (ISO) specifications, guaranteeing that it will seamlessly connect with an entire transport infrastructure by road, rail and sea.

It is this intermodal capability which has proved such a catalyst for the growth of the container industry, as the goods remain in the same container throughout their journey, whatever the mode of transport.

Historically, many commodities were transported in bulk by sea or in drums, which can be difficult to clean and are often disposed of after a single journey. In comparison, tank containers are rarely unused for any stage of a journey.

Type 316 molybdenum-containing stainless steel is easy to clean and provides excellent resistance against chemical corrosion. Providing that the tanks are thoroughly cleaned and loaded correctly, there is no reason why they shouldn’t give many years of reliable service.

In 2016, another 44,450 tanks were manufactured around the world, using more than 110,000 tonnes of stainless steel and nearly 1,800 tonnes of molybdenum. This popularity is due in part to the durability of the containers and their resistance to corrosion. Despite a variety of corrosive cargo, endless movement and vigorous cleaning, containers are used over and over again, thanks to molybdenum-containing stainless steel.

You can read more about this process in MolyReview, in which we showcase some of the most interesting and amazing uses of molybdenum. Jump straight to this article here.

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