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Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety (PHMSA) Administration


Portable tanks are used in various transportation systems throughout the entire world. They are used interchangeably for the transportation of hazardous materials. These types of hazardous materials packages are placed on cargo ships, trains and trucks to ensure the hazardous materials products are delivered in an efficient manner. The portable tanks are held in a carriage system that are placed in the bottom of cargo vessels and transferred on trains and or truck traveling hundreds to thousands of miles to its destination where it may be stacked on top of each other. This research will examine the forces and stress on these hazardous materials packages throughout the transportation system and assist the modes of transportation to determine what effects may occur during loading and unloading from mode to mode. In addition, what conditions the HM packages will experience while it is in control of that specific mode of responsibility. This research will in turn provide us with a means to improve the modal regulations, evaluate current test and inspections methods and collect shipping experiences of these HM package characteristics in an intermodal freight environment.

Expected Phase I Outcomes:

The outcome expected from Phase I will be the development of the concepts for a prototype of a monitoring system. It will also develop technological methods to determine the forces and environments that a portable tank is exposed to when used to transport hazardous materials. This research will provide a recommendation(s) on what could be accomplished in Phase II of this research effort. This effort is for six (6) months, resulting in a final report of recommendation(s).

Expected Phase II Outcomes:

In Phase II, the developed technological concepts will be used within the transportation system to pilot the technology for a period of one year and determine the efficacy of the monitoring system. The determination of further development will be based upon the analysis and interpretation of the data collected.

Outcomes of Phase II efforts will involve the possibility of this technology being used on other HM packages and determining what additional characteristics affect other types of hazardous materials packages.

This research will support the Office of Hazardous Materials Safety's Engineering and Research Division's goal to ensure package integrity is held to the standards prescribe by the regulations. This research effort will afford the Department of Transportation's modes the ability to examine hazardous materials packages integrity in an "intermodal" environment.

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