Dome Technology begins work on first dome in Chile

Dome Technology’s team inflated the airform for its first dome in Chile on Nov. 23.

Located in Santiago, the completed dome will hold 50,000 metric tons of clinker and will stand 28.5 meters high and 57 meters in diameter. The airform will remain in place indefinitely, acting as the waterproofing membrane for the structure.

The contract for the project is with SALFA Montajes S.A., and the final customer will be BSA Cementos. The dome is being built at a new site where BSA Cementos will be able to increase its production by 950,000 tons per year during the first stage of operation, with as much as 1,900,000 tons a year being processed per year. The dome will be the first large structure on site.

Selecting a dome “has several technical advantages that will eventually be reflected in economic benefits for our final customer,” said Nilo Araya Gonzalez of SALFA Montajes, head of supplies for the BSA project, adding that quick construction time, a smaller construction crew and a low-maintenance final product were key advantages. “Moreover, the dome’s building technology allows for a large storage capacity under one structure, avoiding the use of multiple reclaim systems,” he said.

The plant is expected to have a continuous supply of clinker from the port for production, and the “dome will serve as reserve storage so that if supply is interrupted from the port, (the customer) will have plenty to continue operating,” said Dome Technology operations manager Eudaldo Chavez said.

A substantial head house placed at the dome’s apex will house large equipment, conveyors and dust-control systems, a load that can be supported because “our dome has plenty of strength to handle the loads and stress, even on a seismic event,” Chavez said. The dome will not include tunnels as product loading will happen via a conveyor system running through the apex; a front-end loader will unload the clinker through a main door.

Chile is known for its seismic activity, “but even more important than that, we are known to have one of the most rigorous building codes regarding the considerations to be accounted for when doing any type of construction,” Gonzalez said. ”The dome’s geometry gives it excellent stability and load-absorption characteristics; therefore, this design has important advantages in meeting seismic requirements that are mandatory in our country, which will as well translate into savings during construction.”

Coppex Engineering & Technologies in Chile was instrumental in securing the project, highlighting for the customer the inherent strength of the reinforced concrete dome in conjunction with competitive price and architectural design. “Coppex had the local contacts, and Dome Technology the best experience with the required flexibility to adapt to the client requirements,” said Gerardo Renner of Coppex.

Dome Technology signed the contract with SALFA Montajes S.A. on August 14, 2015, and dome completion is expected by the end of February 2016.