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Niel Hoback

Will it burst?

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post-68-0-62119900-1452547287_thumb.jpg   Got your attention, eh?  I filled five 20lbs propane tanks with water, no air space left.  I took the valves off the top and put pipe plugs in the holes. Its been below freezing for several days now, last night 2 degrees, tonight less. So far I have seen no evidence of cracks anywhere on them.  What's your thinking? Will they blow? Will they just crack? Will they be unaffected?  I'll check them again in the morning.

Edited by Niel Hoback

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Why not?   Seriously, the scrap yard won't take them if they're whole, and cutting them up is too much work. If they pop open, they're good to go.

Edited by Niel Hoback

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I also would guess split.... but then again, I thought the scrap yard would take them if the valves were off.....  

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Expansion rate of water changing to ice?  Force of ice if restrained while freezing?  I don't know.  But if the walls were thick enough, they wouldn't split.  Would the water not freeze if it can't expand?  Can ice be compressed without melting?  Inquiring minds want to know. 

 

Update:  Someone really smart says:

 

... there are forms of ice that do not have to expand 9% when they freeze, but they only happen at very high pressures or very low temperatures. ... (Such ice) actually shrinks when it freezes rather than expanding because the molecules of water arrange themselves differently in the ice.

 

So maybe the tank won't split.

Edited by DonaldSmith

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They should split. After all, water and hot water heat pipes frequently split when frozen. It may take a couple of nights of frigid temps to freeze them solid, but they will split.

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pFrozen water brings down whole mountain ranges over time. A propane tank will split like a rotten apple. Ice expands and something has to give and it will not be the ice unless the water is inside something phenomenally more strong than a propane tank. Some interesting reading that I learned a lot from:

http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2014/01/happen-froze-water-container-strong-water-couldnt-expand-ice/

https://www.quora.com/If-water-is-contained-in-an-unbreakable-container-with-no-room-to-expand-would-it-freeze-at-freezing-temperatures

Edited by RobertKB

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I would put my money on the tanks splitting.  They were designed to resist pressures, plus appropriate safety factors, for the internal gas, and for being banged around.   They were never designed to create a different kind of ice.  Stay tuned.  Let us know what happens. 

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The tanks aren't designed to withstand pressure?  I thought the propane goes in under pressure, and stays under pressure till the vessel is empty, and that the valve has an over pressure release.  If fill a tank ithe AM ona cold day and then sit the full tank in the direct sun, the gas will expand a increase the pressure in the tank till the release pressure is met, then it should be vented to releave the over pressure.  Don't know what the pressure might be but it might be beyond the expansion caused by solid ice inside.  But do let us know.  Be interesting to see if the failure are all in the same place on the tank or across the board. 

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  That is my next question, since it's logical that eventually they will rupture, where?  Look at the pictures for hints.  I am betting on the weld around the threaded plate for the valve. There is also a circumferential weld. There are places on all of them where the bottom ring and the top handles are, or were welded to the tank. The rust is not serious on any of them even though one seems quite rusty, its only surface rust.

  As far as pressure, it's great enough to change propane gas to liquid propane and keep it there.

  I'll check again in the morning. Single digit temps all night.

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I think they'll crack at the circumferential weld.  There is a greater surface area exposed to the ice at that weld.  Plus, the valve plate is probably reinforced so it would be harder to rupture.

 

FWIW, When I was in elementary school (early sixties) I read a children's story where some kids had to split cannon balls so they filled them with water and waited for them to freeze.  They learned that it does not pay to bury them in snow because snow is an insulator.  When they left the cannon balls uncovered they froze and split.

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Once filled with water, and frozen, a 4 1/2" angle grinder with a cutting wheel might speed that splitting process. Small slice from top to bottom should get you to the scrap yard quickly. Of course that would take all the fun out of it.

 

Used propane tanks are not a problem here. Just drop them at the transfer station for recycling. Same with car/truck batteries. My battery would go to the parts store for a $5 gift card.

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I bet that all it does is deform or perhaps leak unless it already has corrosion or some kind of defect. That thin wall stuff will stretch quite a bit before it bursts. If it does burst look closely there will be a defect where it lets go.

 

Jeff

Edited by Jeff Balazs

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Bring one over here and we'll give it a real test... supposed to hit -30C with a windchill factor hitting close to minus 40. Those are pretty strong little tanks, they might just stretch and not rupture.

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I have nine tanks. One on the grille, which I seldom if ever use, three holding gas, and five I want rid of. When scrap was $220 a ton, I collected and sold anything metal. Except propane tanks. Scrap is now $40.

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post-68-0-26850700-1452619957_thumb.jpgThermo says 13 above now. THE TANKS ARE SWELLING UP!  The curve at the top of the sides where it turns into ends is noticeably rounder and the tanks look a little bloated.  Still waiting.......................

Edited by Niel Hoback

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Speaking of boiling pots if this freezing experiment fails you could simply build a large fire under all the sealed tanks full of water and run like heck. You will get an audible report when the job is completed and possible free delivery of the broken shell to an as of yet unidentified location. :cool:  

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I suspect a bulge is all you will get. I think in order to get them to burst you'd have to keep adding water as the tank bulges out.

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