Thursday, July 22, 2010
The operations covers about 3000 acres (1214 hectares) with 1000 being the active quarry. They estimate they have enough material at the current rate of consumption to produce cement for the next 150 years. The quarry is large enough to be used by pilots as a visual navigation marker.
Cement is composed primarily of four ingredients: calcium, silicon, aluminum, and iron. The plant uses the Silver Creek Member of the North Vernon Limestone to produce the limestone (calcium). They obtain the silicon from the clay in the soil above the limestone. The rock material is obtained with Caterpillar front loaders and dump trucks and taken to the processing area.
The rock is then placed in the crusher to shape the rock into small pieces. It is then mixed with silicon (clay), iron and aluminum. I do not remember if he told us the source of the last two elements. The rock is then broken down into a powder in one of the largest grinding apparatuses in the United States. The material is then sent to a long rotating furnace heated to over 2500 degrees F (1370º C) to transition the limestone and silica clay to a hot mass called clinker The steel drum furnace has to be lined with fire bricks because the metal drum can melt. Coal is the fuel that heats the furnace (not sure if it comes from Indiana or Kentucky). The clinker is then put in a grinder to make the powder you find in Portland cement bags.
Learn about how to make cement in this video that Essroc created (Internet Explorer might be required to view).
A warehouse the size of about 1 acre stores the finished product. It has the capability of loading 5 rail cars and many truck trailers simultaneously. The finished products produced at the plant include BRIXMENT® Masonry Cement and Portland Cement. In a side note: Portland gets its name from stone from the Isle of Portland off the coast of England. It was named by its inventor (1824) Joseph Aspdin. Learn more at the Portland Cement Association website. They have a flash animation that documents the whole process.
Essroc Corporation is a good local citizen to Clark County providing approximately 150 jobs in their operations. In the past, the former owner built infrastructure in the town of Speed including stores, a church, and park. The 10 acre company owned and maintained park hosts the annual Art In Speed Park festival. This year (2010) the festival is August 28-29 from 10AM till 5 PM.
Extensive pollution controls are used control dust. You can see in the image above of the golf course next to the plant is very green and not dust covered. The area in the quarry and plant is also watered down with a water truck daily. The company contributes to the tax base to help maintain roads and infrastructure used by company equipment.
Essroc is owned by Italcementi Group of Italy which has international holdings around the world. The North American group as of 2009 consisted of 7 full cycle cement plants, 3 quarries, 1 grinding center, and 39 ready mix concrete plants with 1789 employees. Their sales were 400 million Euros ($556 million) in 2009.
Speed, Indiana is named after former Louisville business man James Breckenridge Speed (1844-1912) who was president of Louisville Cement Company. According to The Encyclopedia of Louisville, after serving in the Civil War he worked for Louisville Hydraulic Cement and Water Power Company which was based in Shippingport at the the Tarascon Mill. In 1869, the name was changed and he became president. He was also involved in finance, coal, wool mills, railways, and telephone companies. After he died, the Speed Art Museum and University of Louisville Speed Scientific School were named after him.
The Speed Limestone is known for several fossils: Hadrophyllum orbignyi, Bordenia knappi, and Eridotrypa bryozoan. Interestingly, the Bordenia knappi was named by a local fossil dealer named George Greene in 1903 for a wealthy businessman/geologist William W. Borden whom Borden, Indiana is named after. In my studies a lot of the fossils found in the Louisville area were named by people outside of the Louisville area this one is one of the exceptions.