Drums, like tanks, are used as storage vessels. There are two main types, storage drums, shown here, and process drums.

(Copyright Skolnik Industries Inc., Chicago, IL)


General Information/Equipment Design

Storage drums typically range in size from 5 to 110 gallons, with 55 gallons being the most common. Typical materials include steel, stainless steel, carbon steel, fibers, composites and plastic. They are available in a closed or open head design. The drums shown here are stainless steel open head drums.

storage drums
(Copyright Skolnik Industries Inc., Chicago, IL)

Usage Examples

Drums are used to store a wide variety of liquids, such as oil, gasoline, and industrial chemicals. Also, special salvage drums, such as the ones pictured below, are available to contain damaged or leaking drums that hold hazardous materials. Standard salvage drums have a yellow body with a yellow or red lid.

(Copyright Skolnik Industries Inc., Chicago, IL)
(Copyright Skolnik Industries Inc., Chicago, IL)


  • Available in a wide range of sizes and materials.
  • Refurbished drums are available at a lower cost.
  • Reuseable.
  • Easy to transport.


  • Complex parts are difficult to coat using corona Not available in extremely large sizes.
  • Leakage and spilling can occur during transport.
  • Certain drums can only be used for specific storage.

Process Vessels

General Information/Equipment Design

Process drums are usually hollow cylindrical steel vessels. They are used as intermediate containers between process units, or for phase separation by settling.

Drums provide flow rate stability, so fluctuations in process streams are not transmitted through a plant. Horizontal drums are usually used for liquid collection, or separation of two immiscible liquids.

process vessel

Vertical drums, as seen below, are often used for gas-liquid separation. These drums are used on distillation columns, to separate a portion of the distillate and return it to the column.

Drums are much smaller than tanks and have a holdup time of only a few minutes. The internal components are usually limited to mist eliminators and level instruments.

vertical drums



  • Bausbacher, Ed, and Roger Hunt. Process Plant Layout and Piping Design. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1993. Print.
  • Walas, Stanley M. Chemical Process Equipment: Selection and Design. Stoneham:      Butterworth, 1988. Print.


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