Drum It Up! Steel Drum Industry News, Trends, and Issues

Nitric Acid Transportation

May 17th, 2022 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Industry News

Spring has sprung and with it, presumably, the transportation of nitric acid due to the materials popular usage in the production of fertilizers. Industrial grade steel drums are used to transport all sorts of challenging materials and dangerous goods, even corrosive materials such as nitric acid. Nitric acid transportation is tricky because of the instability and oxidizing nature of even dilute nitric acid. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that there are numerous regulations and requirements surrounding the transportation of nitric acid.

According to the Cargo Handbook, nitric acid is generally transported in two concentrations: 65-75% and, to a lesser extent, 95-98%. 316L grade stainless steel drums give the lowest corrosion rates at the likely transport temperature of the 65-75% concentration. To transport higher concentrations of nitric acid, the corrosion rate of your container will require a more precise analysis of the concentration and temperature.

In general, nitric acid won’t be transported in a standard grade of stainless steel. At least not without proper analysis to determine if a lining or other precaution can significantly reduce the corrosion rate.

When it comes to threat, Nitric acid is a triple threat: it is highly toxic by inhalation, highly corrosive to the skin AND is a powerful oxidizing agent and can therefore be explosive and/or flammable if it interacts with numerous compounds – both base and organic.

We recommend discussing the storage and transportation of nitric acid with all facility, transport and safety stakeholders related to your operations as well as your manufacturer before determining the proper containment and procedure of the material. It must be shipped in accordance with the IMDG Code and internal ML rules and restrictions, but be sure to research all potential local and domestic regulations as well before transporting nitric acid.

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