Largest U.S. Sugar Storage Facility to Begin Operations

December 12, 2016

3 Min Read
Largest U.S. Sugar Storage Facility to Begin Operations
The Montgomery, IL sugar storage dome under construction. Image courtesy of American Crystal Sugar Company

A $44 million bulk sugar storage and transfer facility near Chicago built by the American Crystal Sugar Company – said to be the largest sugar storage facility in the United States – will be operational by mid-December, the Willmar, MN-based West Central Tribune reported Monday.

The 20-acre Montgomery, IL facility will feature a 26,000-sq-ft storage dome capable of holding 60,000 mt, or 1.3 million hundredweights, of sugar, and “enables the transfer of nearly twice that amount to many of the largest sugar users in the U.S.,” the company said in a Nov. 16, 2015 press release announcing the construction of the facility.  A 17,000-sq-ft transfer facility and 5500 ft of space for trucks are also included in the project.

“Customer requirements change frequently and this facility will allow us to quickly and easily respond to their needs and avoid interruptions in supply,” said Dirk Swart, executive vice president of industrial sales and marketing at American Crystal in a 2015 statement.

The new facility, which will be operated by United Sugars Corporation (USC), is located about 45 miles west of Chicago near major food and beverage manufacturing facilities. The contents of the site’s sugar dome fill the equivalent of 650 rail cars or 2600 bulk trucks, the company’s web page for the facility said.

American Crystal told the West Central Tribune that the facility’s initial loads of sugar are staged and that the facility will start operations this month. A dome was chosen over grain elevator-like slip-form concrete structures because of lower costs associated with building and equipment, the paper reported.

“With the dome, we have one set of screw conveyor coming to and from it, and one sweep inside,” Aaron Bujerke, business development manager at American Crystal, said in the Tribune.

The top of the concrete storage structure is fitted with six 500-sq-ft explosion vents in a circle and an air lock to prevent the passage of air through screw conveyors to an air lock below, the Tribune said.

Sugar dust was a concern when building the dome and outfitting it with equipment because of explosion risks. The Tribune noted that dust collection and explosion suppression equipment was installed on “everything that handles sugar” at the site.

Other safety measures in place at the American Crystal facility include temperature sensors on bearings, alignment switches in bucket elevators, and pressure sensor-equipped sodium bicarbonate cannons, according to the paper’s report.   

“If a bucket elevator were to have a hot spot that would create a combustible dust explosion, it senses an explosion wave,” said Bjerke in the article. “Those cannons are like fire extinguishers that shoot a baking soda-like product on to stop a chain of explosions.”

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