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Largest US sugar storage and distribution centre to open in December

13 December 2016

American Crystal Sugar Company is building a new $40 million storage and distribution facility 45 miles west of Chicago with a 26,000 square-foot bulk storage dome, a 17,000 square foot transfer facility and 5,500 feet of track space. The company says it will be the biggest plant of its type in the country and is scheduled to open by end-December.

Montgomery, IL storage dome - Image: American Crystal Storage Co.
Montgomery, IL storage dome - Image: American Crystal Storage Co.

The 20-acre Montgomery, Illinois, facility’s massive storage dome is capable of holding 60,000 million tons of sugar, and enables the transfer of nearly twice that amount to many of the largest sugar users in the US, the company said in a November 2015 press release announcing the construction of the facility.

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 site is also close to railroad hubs enabling fast distribution across the country.

An American Crystal spokesperson told the West Central Tribune, a Minnesota newspaper, that a dome was chosen over a grain elevator-type structure because of lower costs associated with building and equipment.

The dome's concrete is about 12 inches thick at the base and about 8 inches thick at the top. Near the top is a circle of six, 500-square-foot explosion vents 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 potential explosion risk. 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. 

American Crystal Sugar is also involved in a project to build a bio-refinery in Grand Forks, Dakota, with the Wisconsin-based company BioMass Solution. The sugar company would supply the plant with beet tailings from five sugar plants in surrounding locations to produce ethanol. The refinery should open by spring 2018.

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