Research regarding liquid surge in tanks

Ralph S. Budwig, PhD

Ralph S. Budwig, PhD.
Mechanical Engineering
University of Idaho

Dr. Ralph Budwig led the research project to measure the forces caused by a surging liquid load in a tank with and without SURGE BUSTERS.

Using a water tank with 4 foot mean depth and a one foot surge amplitude, the following calculations were recorded:

  • Surge Frequency
  • Surge Time Period
  • Maximum side-to-side surge force
  • Maximum fore-to aft surge force
  • Maximum vertical force oscillation amplitude at front and the rear of tank

Of all tests, the most difference was recorded with the fore-to-aft surge force as follows:

Without SURGE BUSTERS  – 26,480 lbs. of force
With SURGE BUSTERS  – 860 lbs. of force

Meets NFPA standards for surge control in tank trucks

US Forest Service - Department of Agriculture

NFPA - research regarding liquid surge in tanks

The SURGE BUSTER system was first tested by the United States Forest Service to determine if the product met NFPA standards for surge control in tank trucks. The test results indicated that the SURGE BUSTERS exceeded the requirements and would prevent surge related roll-overs.

The test documented that SURGE BUSTERS removed 96% of directional energy caused by water movement. The US Forest Service issued a Tech Tip resulting in the Surge Buster System being used by Contract Fire fighters in region 1, 3, 5, 6 and other locations.

Fighting forest fire

Other observation from the testing were: load shift reduction, stress reduction for the operator, reduction of truck maintenance costs, and potential to reduce accidents.  See write up for US Fire Service/USDA Testing Summary.  See information on NFPA Compliance.

Testing a free-floating baffle system in an un-baffled water tank

Wildfire Operations Research - research regarding liquid surge in tanks

Conducted by the Wildfire Operations Research, this report was titled : “Dynamic vehicle tests of a free-floating baffle system in an un-baffled water tank for wildfire suppression vehicles”


putting baffles in tankAs shown to the left, SURGE BUSTERS were inserted into the tank and (4) drivers drove the truck that was equipped with sensors to measure the linear distance between the rear axle and the truck body, the lateral/vertical shift of the axles, and the roll response in degrees per second.

Fighting forest fire

(4) drivers, averaging 12 years of driving experience, took the truck through a series of emergency stops, and evasive maneuvers with and without SURGE BUSTERS. In addition to the differences charted across (6) comparative tests, all drivers concluded that driving safety is increased with the use of SURGE BUSTERS.

Also check out our Tank Truck Rollover Analysis