Want to transport gas cylinders safely yourself? This is how it should be done.

This is how it should be done.
Entrepreneurs & Professionals
|
18 December 2018

Large and medium-sized companies usually have their gas cylinders delivered by truck, but for smaller companies or domestic customers this is usually not the case. These users will often transport cylinders by van, or even by passenger car. This is not a problem in itself, if the appropriate safety regulations are properly observed. Kristian Dixon and David Hopper, Head of Safety - both from Air Liquide UK - explain what you need to look out for:

“The first thing to look at is the size of the cylinders, how much they weigh and what gases they contain,” explains Kristian Dixon, Industrial Gas Network Manager. “Air Liquide has four sizes in its ALbee range - S3, S5, S11 and S13 - while the industrial range also has four sizes, B10, B20, B30 and B50. In each case, the number stands for the capacity (volume) of the cylinder in litres. A B50 cylinder can therefore hold 50 litres (representing 10,000 litres of gas at a pressure of 200 bar). The smallest bottle - the ALbee S3 - is 60 cm tall, while the largest industrial bottle - model B50 - measures 180 cm. An ALbee S3 filled with argon weighs 5.5 kg, while a B50 with argon tips the scale at 78 kg. The ALbee S3 can be carried without much effort, while the heavier bottles require a trolley.

Over small distances it may also be possible to slowly and gently roll the cylinder while in a standing position, but this requires some experience and is therefore not recommended for users who are not accustomed to it. Therefore, it’s better to use a trolley if possible. In any case, lifting large, industrial cylinders must be avoided at all costs.”

The weight and dimensions of the cylinders determine how to carry or move them, but make no difference to the transport rules. The quantity of cylinders in one transport is not unlimited. If the gas is inert - i.e.  not flammable, explosive, oxidising or toxic - up to 20 B50 cylinders can be carried in a vehicle. Non-inert gases must be transported in smaller quantities.

Transport rules

“You can safely transport gas cylinders in a van or by car, provided you comply with the safety regulations,” explains David Hopper, Head of Safety in Air Liquide UK. “First of all, the cylinders must be secured so that they don’t shift if you have to stop in an emergency or there’s another sudden manoeuvre. The fact is, if a police officer sees loose gas cylinders in your vehicle, you will be fined. In any case, it’s essential for everyone’s safety that cylinders are firmly secured.”

You must also unscrew any connectors and place the protective cap on the valve. Note: ALbee bottles have a protective cap that is not removable. It is also essential to have adequate ventilation in your vehicle whether it’s summer or winter - even when it’s parked. The warmer it is, the greater the pressure in the cylinders, so the greater the need for ventilation. And if you regularly transport oxygen or inert gases (such as nitrogen or argon), it’s advisable to get hold of a portable disposable oxygen meter. Such devices are commercially available for around 100 euros and sound the alarm if the level of oxygen in a vehicle increases or decreases significantly.”

Cylinders can withstand knocks

“If a cylinder, even a big one, looks like getting away from you, don’t try to stop it. Let the cylinder go, it can withstand the drop,” warns David Hopper. “If you try to catch the cylinder or break its fall, there’s a real risk of injury. Cylinders have been tested by dropping from a height of 1.2 m, with their most vulnerable component - the head - hitting the ground first. So these things really can take a bit of a knock.”

“It’s a good idea, however, to check the connectors and valves carefully if the bottle has fallen. And, if necessary, such items as pressure gauges and pressure relievers need to be looked at too for damage,” adds Kristian Dixon.

Acetylene: extra precautions

The transport and use of cylinders containing acetylene require additional measures. For example, you may not transport or store the cylinders horizontally. And if the bottle has been lying flat, you must stand it upright for at least an hour before opening the valve. That aside - even if the bottle has not been lying flat at all - you must only open the valve gradually. If these precautions are not observed, the acetylene solvent in the cylinder may be released, rendering the bottle unusable. If a bottle of acetylene falls over, it is best to evacuate the area quickly and wait at least ten minutes. After this time, check the temperature of the cylinder by hand. If the cylinder feels warm, wait a little longer. Only when the cylinder feels cold can you carefully stand it upright.

What about empty bottles?

“You must in any case always close the valve properly to prevent residual gases from escaping,” warns Kristian Dixon. Also, take care to remove all components that don’t belong to the original cylinder design as supplied, such as pressure relievers and pressure gauges, and then screw the protective cap back onto the bottle. This applies only to the industrial ‘B’ models; the protective cap is not removable on ALbee bottles. As far as transport is concerned, the same rules apply as for full bottles.”



 

 

Extra support for ALbee S11 gas cylinders

In collaboration with CMJ, Air Liquide has developed a smart safety support for the transport of ALbee S11 cylinders. The support features non-slip EPDM material and a nylon strap with a clamping buckle to hold the bottle securely in place, and is slotted so that the unit can easily be attached, for example to the inside of a van.

Available from our distributors.

 

Any doubts? Call us!

“Whatever the cylinder you want to transport, always be careful and use common sense. Make sure you’re well informed about what you are transporting and the possible risks. Feel free to ask your supplier for additional information, or ask us, if there’s the slightest doubt,” concludes David Hopper.

 

Contact us!

 


A few golden rules for transport in unadapted vehicles:
 

  • A passenger car is not the ideal means of transporting gas cylinders, so avoid this as much as possible;
  • Make sure that you are well informed about the risks and the applicable preventive measures of the products you are transporting;
  • Consult the product safety data sheets and contact your supplier first if you have any doubts or questions;
  • Make sure that valves are securely closed and that fittings, pressure relievers, hoses and the like, have been removed;
  • Loose protective covers must always be fitted;
  • Provide very good, permanent ventilation (the use of an oxygen detector is strongly recommended);
  • Do not transport any toxic or corrosive gases;
  • Do not transport flammable gases in the luggage compartment;
  • Carry a maximum of 50 litres (volume) in total;
  • Secure the load properly.
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