Fuel bladder

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Fuel bladder at Byrd Field Camp in Antarctica

Fuel bladders or fuel storage bladders are collapsible, flexible storage bladders (also known as tanks) that provide temporary or long term storage for industrial liquids (e.g. fuels).[1] These pillow shaped tanks are designed for large volume liquid transport, industrial chemicals, potable water, sludge, and fuel storage. Standard fuel bladder tanks sizes range from 100 US gallons (380 L) to 200,000 US gallons (760,000 L) capacities and larger and custom fuel storage bladders and cells are available, although at sizes exceeding 50,000 US gallons (190,000 L) there is an increased spill risk. To minimize the risk of leakage, and for the sake of containing a catastrophic spill, all fuel bladders should be housed in secondary containment. The use of fuel bladders without precautionary measures is risky and should not be undertaken.[2] The fines involved with fuel spills are well known[by whom?][citation needed] and the EPA has set clear guidelines for the use of secondary containment concerning fuel bladders.

Primary use[edit]

Fuel bladders are used in various fields, such as agribusiness, public works, humanitarian, military and industrial areas. Standard tanks are designed for land based use and operations, but can be used in marine settings and in aviation given proper support. Fuel bladders are also commonly used in oil spill recovery operations.[3]

High end fuel bladders offer a high degree of protection of the stored liquids, ensuring the contents never come in contact with air. This ensures that there is no risk of evaporation or explosion due to gas formation. In order to prevent liquid contamination, a neutral barrier film is added to the fuel bladder's inner side.[4]

Fuel bladders are most useful in situations where critical infrastructure has been compromised or does not exist. Benefits of using a flexible storage system like fuel bladders is their ability to be transported and set up quickly. GMA Cover Corp. advertises that their pillow shaped bladders are foldable at less than 5% of the total volume.[5] Other unique characteristics of fuel bladders are their high resistance to climatic conditions, which makes them useful for use in disaster zones and wartime desert operations.

Technical characteristics[edit]

High end fuel bladders are made of elastomer coated fabrics manufactured by homogeneous vulcanization in one operation. The fabrics ensure the mechanical resistance. Coating and design engineering grant chemical properties and water tightness.[6]


Liquid transport fuel bladders await filling in Antarctica.
Typical Formula One "crash-worthy" fuel bladder.

Fuel bladders can come equipped with all the necessary components for transportation, for example water transportation or fuel transportation on vehicles. Flexible tanks are equipped with adjustable skirts and adjustable towage straps designed to provide high resistance to transport constraints. Adjustable skirts may be replaced by a strap net in case the users need to transform a traditional storage tank to a transportable flexible tank.[7]Specially developed Flexible fuel bladders can also be towed by sled, as in the unique Antarctic expeditions made by American, German and British science teams.[8]

Additional uses[edit]

Flexible pillow tanks are also used as 'water bladders'.[9] The synthetic fabrics used are tough and strong to avoid damage and to prevent leakage.

Ultra-tough “crash-worthy” fuel bladders, reinforced with such fibers as Kevlar, are popular in the motorsports industry and are considered a critical safety component, mandated by racing’s top series such as Formula 1 and NASCAR.[10]The development of the flexible “crash-worthy” fuel bladder has significantly reduced the number of fires, and subsequent explosions, often experienced in a violent auto racing crashes. The same “crash-worthy” technology can also be found in military/industrial vehicles, combatant craft and air-craft. [11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Fuel Bladder Fuel Storage Bladders". Interstateproducts.com. Archived from the original on October 5, 2013. Retrieved 2012-08-05.
  2. ^ http://www.aireindustrial.net/flexible-bladder-tanks/fuel-bladders.asp
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ "flexible tank for storage and distribution of water or fuel". Musthane.com. Retrieved 2012-08-05.
  5. ^ "GMA - Protection Technologies". Gmacover.com. Retrieved 2012-08-05.
  6. ^ "Flexible tanks, fuel bladders for storage of fuel,gasoil) in remote areas in humanitarian or military operations". Musthane.com. Retrieved 2012-08-05.
  7. ^ "transport flexible tank and fuel bladder for transportation used in emergency situations by civil defense or huminatarian and aids organisation". Musthane.com. Retrieved 2012-08-05.
  8. ^ "ATL "Cargo-Flex™" Liquid Transport Bladders". atlinc.com. Retrieved 2017-08-21.
  9. ^ "Collapsible Water Bladder Tanks". Turtlepac. Retrieved 2012-08-05.
  10. ^ "ATL Racing Fuel Cell Bladders". atlinc.com. Retrieved 2017-08-21.
  11. ^ "ATL Industrial/Military Fuel Cell Bladders & Tanks". atlinc.com. Retrieved 2017-08-21.