Tank trailers, as they are commonly called, are vehicles with large cylinders used for transporting dry and liquid products in bulk, and are used around the globe across various industries like petroleum, natural gas, construction, farming, etc. These products might include hazardous or non-hazardous products like LPG gas, petroleum fuel, and numerous dry products like cement, frac sand, sugar, flour, etc. in bulk quantities. In North America, you can find these tanker trailers of different sizes, shapes and design configurations from leading manufacturers like Polar, Retesa, Tremcar, LBT and more. To make the trailers more efficient and safe during transportation, top manufacturers like Polar, Retesa, Tremcar, LBT and others are always working towards building sophisticatedly designed tanker trailers that can carry maximum payloads with a durability that will last 20+ years. In this article, we will be specifically talking about the capacity of different tank trailers as it directly impacts the business bottomline with the cost of loading, unloading and transportation of the products on a regular basis.

The trailer's capacity is controlled by the max gross vehicle weight of 80,000 lbs for trucks in most of the states across the United States. Small tanker trucks have a maximum capacity of 1,000 to 3,000 gallons, while large tankers have a maximum capacity of 11,600 gallons. However, the maximum capacity of a tanker truck depends on the density of the liquid being transported, explains Trailers of Texas tanker expert Nick Harmon. Larger tankers average 5,500 to 11,600 US gallons for lighter weight products vs smaller tankers which average 3,000 to 5,400 gallons for heavier products.

Capacity by Trailer Size- Small Trailers vs Large Tanker Trailers

The smaller-capacity tank trailers have a maximum capacity of 1,000 to 3,000 gallons. They are typically used to transport liquid cargo throughout and within a local community. These types of semi-trailers can be seen being used at airports to fuel aircraft or to deliver domestic fuels, such as liquefied petroleum gas to homes as they are built compliant to safely carry such hazardous products.

On the other hand, large tankers can transport more than 11,000 gallons and are built to carry various liquids, including hazardous materials in bulk. Many liquid tankers are capable of transporting various liquids simultaneously with a sophisticated multiple compartment design which offers safety and functionality at the same time. These tankers could use typically two, three, four, and five separate compartments and can transport a variety of liquids, including fuels such as different gasoline grades, diesel, and industrial chemicals. It is important to note, that each product with a different density or weight alters the tanker's product carrying capacity.

Product Holding Capacity for Different Trailer Types

Chemical Tank Trailer Capacity & Options

The size of the chemical tank trailer depends on the volume and/or weight per gallon being transported. Smaller tanks holding 3,800 and 5,000 gallons are used to transport products with higher specific gravity. Standard chemical trailers hold between 6,000 and 7,000 gallons. Some tank trailers hold up to 8,000 gallons to transport lighter products. Most commonly you will not find chemical trailers with baffles due to the chance of product contamination.

Crude Oil Tank Trailer Capacity & Options

Typical crude oil tank trailers have an average capacity of 8,400 to 11,000 gallons but can range up to 12,680 gallons and with a Super B to 16,800 gallons. Most commonly in the southern US region, you will see one compartment trailers with 8400, 8820, and sometimes 9240 gallons capacities. In the Northern and Western United States or Canada, you will typically find trailers with larger capacities pulled with a lead and pup trailer since weight limits are higher in those parts of the country.

Petroleum Fuel Tank Trailer Capacity & Options

Typically, the capacity for petroleum fuel tank trailers ranges from 9000 to 9800 gallons capacity. They can be made up of several different compartments and are built as four and five compartment trailers. This gives you flexibility in the different products you can haul in one trailer. Most compartment sizes range from 1000 upwards to 3100 gallons per compartment depending on the configuration. Commonly, you will find a double bulkhead between at least one compartment. A double bulkhead is a walled compartment that goes in between two of the trailer's compartments, its main functions are to compartmentalize the trailer and provide a barrier to prevent gasoline and diesel from mixing if you were to have a leak internally.

Sanitary or Food Grade Tank Trailer Capacity & Options

3A sanitary or food grade tank trailers when it comes to liquid products are commonly 6000-7000-gallon capacity. These are typically stainless steel trailers with 1 compartment and no baffles. What separates these trailers from something like a chemical trailer is the finish of the welds. They will perform a polish on the welds known as a 3A finish that ensures there is no product that gets left behind in any little crevices. Some feature you could find in a trailer of this nature is a Clean In Place system also referred to as CIP. These systems are made up of spray balls which run water through the tank to ensure that is cleaned and ready for a new load or product.

Storage Pig Tank Trailer Capacity & Options

Typically, the capacity for storage pig tank trailers ranges from 4000 cubic feet to 4100 cubic feet. These trailers have square shaped pads (4 or 5) on each side to allow installation of the corkscrew legs. Depending on the trailer configuration, you can store products up to 500,000 lbs. The trailer allowing 4 pairs of corkscrew legs (8 total) allows storing 400,000 lbs of product while the one with 5 pairs (10 total) allows 500,000 lbs, and is also the industry standard. Storage pig trailers are also known as horizontal silos or guppies, are constructed of carbon steel and have a rounded horizontal design. These storage pig trailers can keep products like cement, lime, fly ash, sand, and other materials from outside weather elements like rain and wind, while also easily storing large dry bulk products on-site to reduce downtime during projects.

Pneumatic Tank Trailer Capacity & Options

The capacity of pneumatic tank trailers typically range from 500 cu ft to 1650 cu ft. These specialized trailers are equipped with pneumatic systems that enable easy loading and unloading of dry bulk products, making them ideal for high-volume operations. It also provides vacuum-sealed storage and protection to products like frac sand, and cement from moisture and contaminants present outside. You will find the design of the trailers to be in 2, 3, or 4 hoppers. Pneumatic trailers are made of carbon steel, aluminum and stainless steel and have a combined chassis structure with a tanker, a piping system, and a number of discharging units.

Other Important factors to know

Use of Baffles to Provide Extra Safety from Liquid Surge

Although tankers vary in shape and size, they all have one goal in mind, to maximize your carrying capacity. Trailer of Texas explains that tankers can contain anywhere from 1 to 3 baffles to keep liquid movement to a minimum, sometimes also referred to as surge. The baffles aid in stabilizing the overall ride in the truck and when pulling the trailer.

Consider The Weight of the Trailer

Weight is a very important factor for buyers when purchasing a tank. Aluminum trailers typically are the lightest in the tanker industry and allow for the most capacity in terms of gallonage. Stainless Steel trailers are generally second when it comes to the overall weight of tankers followed by Carbon Steel tankers. One thing to keep in mind when buying a trailer is to buy a proven design that has been tested year after year to avoid headaches. Many of the tanker trailers you see do travel on both the highway and off-road on dirt and gravel roads. So, buying any of the proven quality brands we stock, and the quote is a must when considering your purchase. Many trailers have options to save weight to maximize your payload; some of the options include aluminum wheels, super single tires, and various brake options.

As you know now, the typical tank trailer capacity ranges from 7000 to 10000 gallons but different categories of tank trailers have their own capacity to hold and transport products. So, you need to choose the right size of the tank trailer as per your business requirements. We at Trailers of Texas can work with anyone to get the perfect trailer for your business. We have been in business for over 25+ years and are trusted tank trailer experts when it comes to product knowledge and experience. If you want to know more information about tank trailers or if you’re ready to check out some of the best tank trailers for sale in Texas, get in touch with the experts at Trailers of Texas. Call (281) 612-5263