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Revolutionary Indian Start-Up Develops Robots for Safe Petrochemical Tank Cleaning

A start-up based in Bengaluru has developed specialized robots for cleaning petrochemical tanks

17 February 2023

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Jayashri Ghorpade

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  • Robot developed by Beta Tank Robotics can operate in petroleum refineries' oil tanks and eliminate risks to humans.

  • The project was funded by State-owned Oil India Limited and incubated at IIT Guwahati.

  • The operator controls the robot from a panel outside the tank using a CCTV camera.

Beta Tank Robotics Pvt. Ltd., based in Bengaluru, has developed specialized robots for cleaning petrochemical tanks to eliminate the safety risks posed by manual de-mucking. Operators of petrochemical tanks traditionally employ manual resources, exposing maintenance personnel to toxic gases.


The use of robotics eliminates the human risk in cleaning ship's oil tanks, and the startup is headed by DC Sekhar, a former merchant navy oil tanker captain with extensive experience in this field. The robots are powered and controlled by hydraulics, with the operator maneuvering them from a control panel placed outside the tank while monitoring them through a CCTV camera.


DC Sekhar highlighted that this technology had several distinctive features that set it apart from its counterparts across the globe in developing the first generation robotic solutions for petrochemical tanks. Firstly, the robot has been designed to be compact enough to crawl under heating coils that are usually found in such tanks. Secondly, it has a small suction length and employs a powerful pump on the robot to extract viscous sludge from the tank.

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He shared his bullish outlook for the future, as several oil companies have contacted his startup with different requirements for robotic cleaning solutions, ranging from cleaning small chemical tanks with small openings to cleaning sludge deposits inside large pipelines. He emphasized the inefficiency of models using pumps outside the tank to suck viscous medium over long pipe lengths.


Sekhar is confident about meeting all these requirements and his company currently offers two product lines: one to clean black oil storage tank bottom sludge and the other to water wash the insides of retail outlet underground tanks. He has extensive experience of working inside merchant ship's oil tanks as an officer and later as a captain of large tanker ships. He started developing robotic solutions for this application three decades ago but was able to fulfil his dream only recently thanks to the support of M/s Oil India Ltd. The startup is supported by Oil PSU M/s Oil India Ltd under its SNEH program and was recently adjudged as the 'Best Startup' at India Energy Week 2023 in Bengaluru.

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