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The History of SEI’s BATT

Transporting large quantities of fuel to remote sites is a challenge faced across the globe. Notably so in areas of Canada, where the terrain doesn’t allow for ground transport of fuels. And the same is true throughout the world.

Bulk transport of fuel had, until recently, been transported by flying oil drums to the location. Oil drums present a slew of negative effects for the environment, logistics, and economics. They have a high chance of spills and leaking. They can often be abandoned after use to avoid the cumbersome and costly destruction. They can often cause damage to the inside of crafts if they are not secured properly during flight. Once the fuel reaches its destination, the empty drums need to be flown back out of the site, effectively doubling the cost of fuel delivery.

Known for their ability to solve problems, SEI Industries’ team were asked by long-time customers to engineer something that could solve this one. SEI, however, turned it down. Nothing like this had been done before. It seemed an incredible engineering challenge. When the question was raised again, SEI refused a second time.

On the third request, presented by a South American law enforcement agency, SEI’s team got to work. They had to overcome significant engineering hurdles. However, in 2010, they began work on the Bulk Aviation Transport Tank, or BATT. Certain things were clear from early requests: single-walled ground tanks, without baffles, sloshed their contents around in flight. Tanks that were ill-fitted to the craft also moved around enough to cause significant friction that often resulted in damage to the shell and even leakage. By the end of the year, they had created a double-walled collapsible fuel transport tank, made from proprietary fabric, with baffles to minimize liquid dynamics. The outer wall is made of abrasion-resistant material and comes equipped with restraining straps to help the Tank withstand strong G-forces. The inner wall is made of fuel-specific materials, optimized dependent on the type of fuel to be carried.

Initially, BATTs were produced in two variants: one for fixed wing aircraft, and one for helicopters. Eventually there would be 20 different size variants, designed specifically for the aircraft it is being used in. This ensures a precise fit and maximizes the load-carrying capacity of the craft.

Once the tank is emptied, it can be collapsed and stored, freeing up most of the craft; this is in stark contrast to an aircraft full of empty oil drums.

In 2010, the first order supplied new BATTs to the Colombian Military, where they support remote bases that are used to combat narcotics trafficking.

In 2011, the Tank was approved by Transport Canada. SEI was the very first organization to receive a Transportation of Dangerous Goods Equivalency Certificate (SA 10638). This allowed operators to use a BATT without having to apply and be approved for special permits.

Subsequently, the BATT won four industry awards: the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) in collaboration with the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP)’s Awards for innovative new technology both regionally and nationally in 2011, and an international outstanding achievement award in Industrial Fabrics Association International’s Technical category and an honors program award in IFAI’s industrial applications category in 2012.

Today, the BATT is used by carriers across five continents: North and South America, Asia, Africa and Europe. SEI’s teams are always trying to improve, and many new modifications are in the works.


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