ASSBT Biennial Meeting – Feb. 24 – Feb 27, 2025 in Long Beach, CA
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A path to implementation of the lime free sugar process.

HOWE*¹ and KOCHERGIN²

¹BetaVA Ltd, 16 Holmes Drive, Ketton, Stamford, ²Amalgamated Sugar LLC, S Saturn Way, Suite 100, Boise, Idaho, 83616

Abstract

In the late 1990’s, an international consortium of nine sugar companies spent several years investigating and scalable piloting of a new lime-free sugar beet process, that was initially proposed by Amalgamated Research Inc. (ARi). The main feature of the process was the replacement of the lime-based juice purification by a chromatographic process. Filtered and softened raw juice was concentrated and separated using resin technology. As a result, non-sugar removal exceeded 80 %, which was far superior to the typical 30% non-sugar removal for conventional beet sugar operations. The chromatographic extract of 98 purity allowed three white sugar boiling’s similar to that in a cane sugar refinery. The configuration of the lime free process was extensively studied and presented a sugar factory with much improved efficiency and different process configuration, although the required equipment was largely that currently seen within the industry. At the end of the eight-year study, the process was considered ready for commercial implementation but as of 2022 no business has yet had the vision or taken the step of realising the sustainable advantages it presents. Under increasing environmental pressures for the beet sugar industry and the challenge to reduce the carbon footprint it is believed the lime free sugar process may offer an attractive opportunity. This presentation reviews the current status and proposes a potential path to implementation. It will also review the challenges encountered and overcome in the original study work.  A discussion will follow how the lime free sugar process may become a low risk future reality for sugar beet processors.

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