Getting sugar from sugar beets at the factory and at home. Let's dispel a common misconception. Many people think that cane sugar is one thing and beet sugar is another.
In fact, there is no difference between cane and beet sugar. Refined edible refined sugar is ordinary sucrose, whatever its origin.
This article describes in detail how sugar is made in factories, how much of it is obtained from 1 ton of beets, and also how you can make a natural product at home.
What varieties of root vegetables make a sweet product?
Beets have been known to people for a long time - the first mentions of this vegetable crop date back to the second millennium BC. Since then, breeders have bred many of its varieties. Among them there are leafy forms, for example - chard, while most of them are root-fruit.
Root beet forms are divided into food and feed. The current sugar beet originated from the fodder varieties. It happened quite late - in the 18th century.
Modern varieties and hybrids of sugar beets contain up to 18% sugar... The best of them are Kristall, Manezh, Nesvizhsky and others. We will tell you how sugar is extracted from them further.
Technology and equipment at a sugar refinery
We will briefly describe how sugar is produced on the basis of root crops in special factories (you can find out about how sugar beets are used and what is obtained in the process of its processing here). Production at the plant takes place in several technological stages.
- Preparatory stage (cleaning and washing line)... Beets brought directly from the field or from storage can get stones, fragments, pieces of metal. This is dangerous for equipment. Beets can be just plain dirty.
In order to avoid sugar loss during washing, the water temperature is controlled - it should not exceed 18 degrees. After washing, the beets are rinsed with chlorinated water - at the rate of 10-15 kg of bleach per 100 tons of beets. Then the beets are fed to the conveyor. There it is blown with a strong stream of air. This removes residual water and adhering light impurities.
- hydraulic conveyors (at the same time as feeding the beets is washed from dirt);
- sand traps, stone traps, topper traps;
- water separators;
- washing machines.
- Shredding... How is it done? The prepared sugar beet is weighed and fed to the storage hopper. From here, it is fed under its own weight for grinding on centrifugal, drum or disc beet cutters. The width of the resulting shavings is in the range of 4-6, and the thickness is 1.2-1.5 millimeters.
- conveyor with magnetic separator;
- beet slicer;
- Diffusion... In diffusion plants, the main process takes place - the washing out of sugar from the crushed material. The shavings are processed with hot water and release sugar and other soluble substances into the solution. This process takes place at a temperature of about 70-80 degrees in a weakly acidic environment.
An environment rich in sugars is a fertile environment for the development of microorganisms. This leads to damage to the product and to more dangerous consequences - for example, possible explosions. Therefore, in the process of diffusion, formalin solution is periodically added to the apparatus.
Its final concentration is low - 0.02% of the total mass of the product, but it is sufficient to suppress active microflora. The product that is obtained at this stage is diffusion juice. It is a cloudy liquid that darkens quickly in air. It contains a large amount of pulp.
The pulp is separated on the mesotopes. The second product is beet pulp. It is compressed and either sent directly to livestock feed or dried.
- diffusion unit (screw or rotary);
- pulp dryer
- Diffusion juice purification... The juice obtained after diffusion is a complex mixture of many soluble organic substances of the most diverse nature. To cleanse the juice from these impurities, a defecation process is carried out.
The process with this unappetizing name is carried out in two stages. It comes down to processing the juice with lime (milk of lime). The reaction of the solution in this case reaches pH values of 12.2 - 12.4, that is, the solution becomes alkaline.
In this case, organic acids are neutralized, proteins are precipitated. Other unwanted impurities also react. The reaction products either precipitate immediately or are removed at the next stage - the saturation stage. The term "saturation" refers to the well-known process of "carbonation", that is, saturation of the solution with carbon dioxide. In this case, a finely dispersed suspension of calcium carbonate (ordinary chalk) is formed, which absorbs coloring impurities.
Then the solution is filtered and saturate again. Before this, if necessary, repeated bowel movements are sometimes performed. The resulting clear but still colored solution is then treated with sulfur dioxide (sulfur dioxide). This process is called sulfation. At the same time, the alkaline reaction of the solution decreases and its discoloration occurs. The viscosity of the syrup also decreases.
- defecation apparatus;
- filter with heating device;
- Thickening and crystallization... The juice obtained after sulfitation is an ordinary unsaturated sucrose solution. If the solution is thickened to a saturated state, then, as is known from the school physics course, the crystallization process will begin in it.
The resulting crystals will begin to precipitate. This is what happens in vacuum apparatuses. There the solution, previously evaporated to a state close to saturated, begins to boil under reduced pressure, and thickens to a supersaturated state. The process of mass crystallization begins.
The precipitated sugar crystals are separated in centrifuges and carried out through several more stages of final processing. There they are clarified and turn into the familiar, well-known, granulated sugar.
- vacuum apparatus;
- evaporative installations with a concentrator.
The sugar yield from 1 ton of root crops after processing is approximately 100-150 kg... The range of indicators depends not least on the agricultural technology of growing sugar beets and weather conditions in the current year (more about where the beets grow, what climate and soil they "like", read here).
The factory indicator of production efficiency is the sugar recovery factor. It shows the ratio of the mass of sucrose in the finished product (granulated sugar) to the mass of sucrose in the feedstock. Usually it is about 80%.
How to get the product at home?
Let's say right away that it is unlikely that it will be possible to cook just the usual refined sugar at home. But sugar syrup is easy to make. It will be a real natural product made by hand. The most simple equipment is suitable for this.
- an arbitrary amount of sugar beet;
- enameled dishes (pots, pots);
- meat grinder, knife, wooden spatula;
- gauze or other filter cloth.
How homemade sugar is made:
- Sort the beets, clean them of roots and spoiled areas. Do not remove the skin!
- Put whole in a saucepan with boiling water and cook for an hour.
- Drain the water. Allow to cool slightly and peel off warm beets.
- Grind with a meat grinder or knife, which is preferable. The cut plates should be no thicker than 1 mm.
- Place the chopped beets in a canvas bag and place under a press. Substitute a basin for the dripping juice. If there is no press, you can also squeeze the juice by hand, twisting the bag, as when wringing out the laundry.
- After the first pressing, pour the pulp with hot water (not boiling water) in a volume approximately equal to half the volume of the beets, let stand. Throw the beets on a sieve, let the liquid drain into the bowl with the juice squeezed out earlier. Squeeze the thick again there.
- Heat the resulting juice to 70-80 degrees and filter through double gauze.
- Evaporate the filtered juice on the stove to the desired density. In this case, it is advisable to use dishes that are wide and flat, enameled or tinned.
- A properly prepared syrup has the consistency of liquid honey. It is stored, like honey, for a very long time.
The syrup obtained during evaporation must be constantly stirred with a wooden spatula - it burns easily.
From 5 kilograms of sugar beet, about 1 kg of syrup is obtained, or, in terms of 600 grams of pure sugar.
Getting hard sugar
The syrup must be boiled gently in the same way that sugar is boiled down to make homemade lollipops. Pour the boiled syrup into flat metal molds. Put in a cold place. There the syrup will quickly cool down and crystallize. Then it remains only to remove it from the mold and split it into pieces of the desired size.
We offer you to watch a video on how sugar is extracted from beets: