Dome for St. Marys Cement ready for operation in Chicago

The St. Marys Cement project in Chicago, Illinois, was completed January 29.

The completed dome holds 50,000 tons of cement, stands 121 feet high and is 130 feet in diameter. The project began April 1, 2015. The dome features a Laidig screw and airslide system, the same components as the Charlevoix, Michigan, dome, which was completed Oct. 1, 2015; part of the aeration reclaim and the transport system were designed and provided by FLSmidth.

Transporting bulk storage via water isn’t just an efficient way to ship; it has also become a viable way for companies to spread their business operations from one city to the next without having to buy land adjacent to existing plants.

Such was the case with the St. Marys project. The Chicago dome was built at an existing company location, a transload facility that receives product made in Charlevoix and other locations, temporarily stores it, then loads it onto trucks for transport. To this point the Chicago facility has not had the capacity to store the necessary volume shipped from the Charlevoix plant. The completed dome will allow St. Marys “to get the dome filled before the lakes freeze over and (they) can’t get ships down there,” Dome Technology operations manager Brent Hardy said.

Commissioning was the final step of the project, taking place just before the facility began full operation. With commissioning a small amount of stored product is conveyed into the dome and processed to make sure all handling systems and equipment work. Often, vendors of various systems are also part of the commissioning to ensure their products work properly before the dome begins daily production.

The project has literally changed the landscape of southern Chicago, Hardy said, as the project is located on Lake Calumet and is visible all around the lake. “Every time we inflate a dome, the horizon changes—one day it is not there, and the next it is,” he said. “The dome in Chicago is visible from the nearby Interstate 94 as well as multiple locations around the area.”