SEI Industries has developed the world’s first collapsible, double-walled, baffled transportation tank that allows users to safely carry bulk fuel to remote sites via aircraft.

With mining operations typically located in remote areas with little infrastructure, fuel supply becomes a critical commodity. For the past few decades, the most common solution was to fly bulk fuel in using drums that were never designed for aircraft interiors. Once the fuel was offloaded into storage containers, the same aircraft then departed with empty drums as its ‘paying’ cargo.

Understandably, this empty return flight doubled the actual cost of fuel delivery simply because the aircraft could not be utilized for any other cargo. Fortunately, that’s all changed with the launch of a new award-winning product, the Bulk Aviation Transport Tank (BATT).

Using the BATT, once the fuel is offloaded, the tank is simply folded or rolled up for storage. This advantage cuts the cost of fuel delivery by almost 50% and speeds up operations by allowing the aircraft to carry cargo, such as core samples, out on the return flight.

Building the BATT

As the world’s first collapsible, double-walled, baffled aviation tank, the BATT took a number of months to develop and was first deployed in 2010 for use by South America’s Columbian law enforcement. Manufactured by SEI Industries Ltd., BATTs are made from two main components: a heavy duty, abrasion-resistant outer tank (with a built-in strapping system that also serves as secondary containment) and a baffled inner tank.

Customized to fit specific aircraft interiors, BATTs deliver several economical, safety and environmental benefits for remote operations:

  • It allows operators to maximize any aircraft’s load-carrying capacity. Dead head flights (with no cargo or passengers) are minimized because the BATT can be folded up and stored when not in use
  • The BATT eliminates aircraft damage or spills caused when handling fuel drums. It also reduces the cost of fuel spoilage and provides a cost savings to operators who often lose money because they cannot return damaged drums
  • The BATT eliminates the need to dispose of empty drums which are often abandoned because of the high cost associated with removing them. This prevents environmental impacts in remote and, often, sensitive locations

Although, in the past, only fuel drums were allowed to transport fuel without special permits, today, SEI Industries is proud to be the first company to receive a Transportation of Dangerous Goods Equivalency Certificate (SA 10638) from Transport Canada allowing the BATT to be used without special permits for the transportation of fuels. The company is also pursuing FAA approval for the BATT.

The BATT comes in a range of sizes to fit various aircraft. Currently, the DC-3 (1150 USG), MIL-17 (1150 USG), Cessna Caravan (475 USG), AN26 (1800 USG), AN32 (1800 USG) and Twin Otter (630 USG) models are available. Future sizes will accommodate the DC-6, Bell 412 and Hercules aircraft.

Cost Analysis

Since many mining sites don’t have year-round fuel delivery from tanker trucks or barges, now, with the development of the BATT, remote site operators have an innovative new option that is both economical and efficient. Operators can fly fuel in, empty the BATT, roll it up and then head back with a full load of cargo or passengers – saving nearly 50% over older methods.