Sugarcane: From stem to juice
Sugar production begins with cultivation on sugarcane plantations. This cereal grows in tropical and subtropical climates and needs plenty of sun and water. During harvest, the stems of the plant are cut manually or machinously, separating the sugar-free tops and leaves from them. The
world leader in sugar cane production is Brazil.
It is very important to deliver the obtained raw materials as quickly as possible to the sugar plant, as sucrose levels fall in the cut stems. Trucks or small rail networks are usually used for transportation.
After delivery to the plant, the raw materials are very thoroughly washed. Clean stems grind into small pieces in crushers. The next stage is juice squeezing. At the same time, crushed fibers are pressed between cylinders inside special mills. As a result, sweet juice is formed, which will be further processed to produce sugar, and cake.
Dry cake left after juice is pressed is used as fuel for boilers and furnaces, for the production of paper, cardboard, chemicals and agricultural mulch.
Cleaning and evaporation The squeezed
juice is checked for the level of sucrose content and the presence of impurities. The liquid is then exposed to chemicals. To clean and regulate the level of acidity, the juice is mixed with lime solution and after a while separate solids settled on the bottom.
The next stage of sugar production is called evaporation. It involves turning a sweet liquid into a thick syrup. In this process, the purified juice is heated and boiled in special containers. The level of sugar content in the product increases much, from 15 to 60%.
Crystallization of sugar
The resulting syrup is placed in vacuum plants for further boiling. To initiate the formation of sugar crystals, some amount of finished crystalline sugar is poured into the mass. The result is a thick mixture of crystalline sugar and non-crystalline syrup.
Next, the paste is placed in high-speed centrifuges, where sugar crystals are separated from the molasses. The resulting sugar has a brownish tinge. In some factories it is subjected to extra cleaning, and it becomes white. Drying sugar with hot air is the final stage, after which the product is packaged and packed.