According to the USDA, over 185 million tons of sugar were processed worldwide in 2017, which is a record level of sugar processing. Sugar is used in almost every food category and type, and has become a staple product in the diet of most of the world, with Americans eating over 150 pounds of sugar each year. Sugar isn’t only used for food flavoring either, it is also used as a preservative, is used in medicine, cosmetics, bioplastics and biofuel, fermentation and distillation, leather tanning, and many other industries.
Where does sugar come from, and how is sugar processed?
Sugar comes from either sugar cane or sugar beets, which have similar sugar processing methods with only a few slight differences. The goal is to extract the sucrose from the plant and refine it down into pure sugar.
First the sugar beets or sugar cane needs to be harvested, and then the beets are sliced and soaked in water, and the cane is crushed and soaked in water. This extracts the juice from the plant that contains the sucrose.
This sugary juice is then boiled until thickened and then spun through a centrifuge to remove impurities and coloring from the sucrose. The sugar is then crystallized once it is pure, and the sugar crystals are sent to be dried on a sugar dryer, most often a vibrating fluid bed dryer.
Once the sugar crystals have been thoroughly dried they can be packaged without fear of them being ruined or dissolving from too much moisture, and they can be sent to consumers and food producers.
The byproducts of the sugar processing and drying process are used as well and are not wasted. Molasses is one of the products removed from the sugar to create pure sucrose, and is used in baking and distilling and animal food. The sugar beet pulp is used as animal feed, and the sugar cane stalks are burned as fuel, often powering the refinery.
If your sugar refinery and sugar drying process needs help, be sure to contact a Carrier Vibrating Equipment representative to see how we can help. We make sugar dryers, screeners, and conveyors that are widely used and trusted in the sugar industry.