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Under the Tunisian sun

The automobile sector is opening up new growth markets in Africa. A large tank system on the Gulf coast of Tunisia has now been equipped with smart technology that provides for high-quality fuel by Hamburg company M+F Technologies. And the tanks? They're from Rietberg!

The capital of Tunisia is a magnet for tourists. Even in Autumn, Tunis attracts thousands of visitors who want to experience the oriental hustle and bustle of the souks and Medina – the historic old town. It's no surprise, then, that tourism is one of the largest sources of income for the city. And although Tunis is a traffic hub, the automobile sector is still a fairly insignificant branch of the economy. Many people travel by rail. Here and there, dromedary camels are still used.

But cars are on their way. According to GTAI, the business development company of the Federal Republic of Germany, in 2015, more than 1.9 million vehicles were counted in Tunisia. This growth is also accompanied by an increase in the demand for fuel. And this problem was recognised by the Tunisian customer of the company M+F Technologies, who are known for smart individual solutions relating to the mineral oil trade – however only in Europe up until now.

1.9 Million
In the automobile sector, Africa is seen as a continent with potential. Tunisia is also becoming more mobile. In 2015, already more than 1.9 million vehicles were counted here. Source: GTAI

What are additives?
Low quantities of additives are added to fuels to improve their properties. They help to increase engine performance, reduce consumption or clean the engine, for example. This “premium fuel” can be pumped at many petrol stations. Sometimes however, additives can also be used as a colourful differentiation feature for the various petrol station Operators.

Northern Africa is calling
The Hamburg-based company was able to win its first project in Northern Africa with the new customer in Tunis. The focus of the contract: a large storage tank, directly on the Gulf coast of Tunis. The task: individual mixing of additives with the stored fuels. Petrol and diesel were to be enriched with five different additives. How this works? Quite simple in principle: A lorry drives forward slowly, the system recognises which receptor is required and selects the right mixture from the available additives. And this is what fills the tank.

Sounds simple, but is actually very clever
This sounds like child’s play, but in reality, this is a high-tech scenario. Behind the scenes, there is a sophisticated automation and measurement system: the MFX_4 controls developed by M+F Technologies. This is able to observe all important parameters which influence the filling process – from tank volume to mixture ratio.

First, the MFX_4 measurement logging system recognises the signals from the tanker and its special requirement. On the basis of these signals, which have previously been defined in the software, the device determines the correct mixture ratio. Once the fuelling process starts, the control valves on the storage tank are opened. This happens very slowly to avoid the formation of bubbles and outgassing. While all this takes place, the volume flow is measured. Once a certain point is reached, the fuelling process speeds up to its fullest. At the end, it is slowed back down so that the desired quantity can be achieved precisely.

The throughput also plays an important role – and this depends on the temperature. The behaviour is completely different at 20 degrees Celsius than at 0 degrees Celsius. The smart software from M+F Technologies also measures this and reacts accordingly.

Strong hardware from Rietberg
But not only the control and measurement technology plays an elementary role in the tank in Tunis, but also the storage. And this is where Rietberg container technology comes into play. “For us, proximity to the sea, sunlight, the filling material and also the pump technology were important”, reports Guido Röttgers, Business Development/Export North/East. 

The stainless steel which the LT-elh 3000 storage tanks were made from ensures that no impurities can occur in the fuel. In addition, the containers are given a special coating with paint made from titanium dioxide. The paint contains white platelets with a reflective effect – this reduces heat retention. “In a sunny country like Tunisia, this is essential”, says Röttgers. “The stainless steel, and also the wet coating, naturally ensure a strong level of corrosion protection. At the coast, this is particularly important because the salty sea air significantly increases the risk of rusting." 

Two more advantages of the tanks: They are not only suitable for explosion-protected devices and explosive areas, but are also explosion pressure resistant. This means that they would even withstand an internal explosion without rupturing.

But the fitted technology is also very capable. The integrated motor pump conveys the additives, although these have almost no lubricating effect. And the pumps can achieve even more: They can return liquids which were not removed during the tank process to the tank and permanently mix the Contents.

The storage tank LT-elh 3000-E is explosion pressure resistant.

A prototype with potential
The Tunisian customer loves the fact that he can obtain everything he needs from once source – software as well as hardware. Hans-Christoph Ladwig from M+F Technologies is also thrilled about teamwork: “Especially in projects of this size, it is important to have a partner you can trust 100%. We have been working with Rietberg for more than 20 years. Each of us knows what the other needs and expects.” 

The new tank system is the first of its kind in Northern Africa and a prototype. It should be completely finished by the end of the year. But the managers are by now completely sure of one thing: There will be more of them.


“We can serve each customer individually. It doesn't matter what their requirements are with regard to fill level, throughput, pressure or temperature – everything can be adjusted thanks to our software.”
Hans-Christoph Ladwig, Head of Business Unit Solutions, M+F Technologies GmbH


Rietberg’s container technology unit has been working with M+F Technologies for more than two decades. But this year, the team is celebrating a first: their first project in Northern Africa. The cooperation should advance the automobile industry. Learn more about M+F Technologies GmbH:  

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