Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Explosion and fire at Decatur ADM plant on Sunday

Via Reuters, this news: 

CHICAGO, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Several employees were hospitalized after an explosion and fire late on Sunday at a massive Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM) facility in Decatur, Illinois, that severely damaged crop processing operations, the company and the local fire department said.

Eight workers were injured at the ADM East processing plant and six were taken to hospital via ambulance, the Decatur Fire Department said in a statement on Monday. Five remained hospitalized on Monday morning, ADM said.

The company said it was evaluating the extent of the damage and investigating the cause of the incident.

Several structures were severely damaged in the blast, including a 10-story building and adjacent buildings, the fire department said.

A plant that crushes soybeans into soybean oil and white flake for soy protein production was down on Monday, ADM said. An adjacent corn processing plant was also "temporarily down until we can safely resume operations," the company said.

Best wishes to their friends and family of the victims. I'm terribly curious as to what happened (i.e. what could have caused the explosion), but I am going to guess that the soybean oil is extraed with some kind of solvent? Maybe it was hydrogenation-related? (ADM does hydrogenation but does it do it in Decatur?) Guess I'll have to keep track of this. 


  1. Soybean oil is usually extracted with hexane. It wouldn't be the first fire at a soybean crushing facility.

    1. I assume they can't use heptane or something else (cyclohexane's probably too expensive) but it would be a good idea - hexane is likely neurotoxic, and using it on large scale seems not great.
      There have been lots of dust explosions in the US, and yet no one (OSHA, Congress) seems willing to do much ( about them. - Hap

  2. It could be also something trivial like organic dust explosion: grain mills and grain silos occassionaly explode (the last instance was in France this spring) just because of the ignition of flammable dust-air mixtures. Similar problem in coal mines


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