Georgia Biomass Terminal – Wood Pellet Bulk Storage – United States
Peeples Industries opts for Plan B—two domes to house wood pellets rather than an A-frame—and saves money in the process
Domes really weren’t on the radar for Peeples Industries in Savannah, Georgia.
The company was seriously considering a 50,000-ton A-frame for storing wood pellets, a product unique in maritime handling, where long-term contracts don’t exist except in the case of pellets. “The longevity of the contracts and guarantees by the utilities—it’s just a very big security for the terminal operator,” Peeples Industries project manager Brad Orwig said.
But an A-frame would require deep foundations that raised financial concern—and there were rumblings that a better option might be on the market. Those reports were enough to pique the interest of Peeples’ leadership, who found domes while researching, then visited a few before deciding to bid out the project.
“We like to consider ourselves innovators, not imitators, and we went out on a limb,” Orwig said.
Going an unexpected direction paid off. Peeples Industries owner Frank Peeples Jr. made contact with Dome Technology, “and they did a lot of things for us. They cheapened our price up because we didn’t have to put in a deep pile foundation”—a system that for the A-frame would have carried the same cost as one entire dome, Orwig said. The company now operates two domes that store and process pellets from producer Georgia Biomass.
Despite Savannah’s soggy soils, water levels were managed and the grade brought up, allowing reclaim tunnels to be wrapped in waterproof blanket and installed underground—and that equaled space savings inside and cost savings too, said Dome Technology sales manager Lane Roberts.
But “the hardest part of the job was tying in the new to existing facilities, both inbound and outbound,” Orwig said. The company had previously handled bulk products like rock and ore, so it was a must that the new domes be built to complement and connect with infrastructure already in place. A double-wing stacking conveyor hanging over the domes’ future location had to be modified. An existing reclaim conveyor joined the domes’ reclaim system. The existing conveyor to the dock was updated. And an inbound conveyor system was designed in a unique Z-shape to work with the existing rail line and its location near the domes.
When unanticipated hurdles arose, the Dome Technology team was quick to recover and stayed on schedule, Orwig said, with the domes and tunnels being constructed in 10 months.
Peeples Industries develops new products all the time, and because the company doesn’t rely on a bidding process, “(Dome Technology) is the only dome company we work with now,” he said. “I’ve worked with a lot of contractors, and Dome Technology is by far the most professional and the best contractor I’ve ever worked with.”