This place is awesome. The plant can produce 500,000 tons of cement per year. Right now they are running at ½ capacity. The enormous spinning tube is the kiln, which goes from 1,400 degrees at one end to 3,000 degrees at the other. At the hot side there are over a dozen industrial fans blowing on the outside of the kiln to keep it from warping. Make sure you check out the videos at the end of the photos.
The huge tower and gantry way above the kiln is the preheater. This takes air blown from the hot end of the kiln up through a series of hoppers to heat up the raw materials before they enter the kiln proper. This is a huge energy/cost savings.
The smaller tubes with all of the bolts on the outside that look like pincushions are the grinders. Those bolts hold down the 5” thick steel walls of the grinders. They put the fired rock (called klinker) into the grinders with 7,000 lbs. of steel cannonballs (no, they are not really cannonballs, but they look like it) which grinds the klinker into cement powder.
The powder travels along a couple of pipes to the storage silos. Transport trucks drive under the silos for a fill up, and then deliver the cement to various sources including ready-mix plants. Only then does it get mixed with sand, aggregate, and water to form actual concrete.
I also took a few photos in the lab area where they test every 90 minutes or so to ensure a proper chemical makeup of the cement. That boxy blue machine compresses fine cement dust to 40,000 psi! which makes little disk things that go into the x-ray machines.
The whole tour was pretty amazing. When we got up close to the kiln (and walked under it!) I could feel the heat radiating off it and I felt like a rotisserie chicken. They also let us use a welder’s mask to look inside the hot end of the kiln, which was super awesome. I couldn’t take a picture of that because I was told it would burn out the camera in my phone.