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Louisiana sugar mills improve efficiency with LSU AgCenter-licensed technology

News Release Distributed 01/08/14

FRANKLIN, La. – Louisiana sugarcane mills have begun installing new equipment that has the potential of reducing processing time and increasing capacity for processing raw sugar.

The Crompion LLT Clarifier incorporates two new technologies developed by the LSU AgCenter and licensed to Crompion International, said company president George Schaffer.

The new product, a short-retention clarifier, reduces the time in one step in the process from two or three hours to about 45 minutes, Schaffer said. A flash trough incorporated in the device reduces the amount of air in the process and improves the results.

The sugarcane milling process involves pressing juice from the cane. The resulting raw juice contains suspended solids called mud, which includes soil and plant residue and must be removed in the clarification process.

“We want the mud to settle and the juice to rise,” Schaffer said.

The Louisiana Low Turbulence Clarifier was developed by Vadim Kochergin and Cy Gaudet and the flash tank was developed by Kochergin and Santiago Grimaldi at the LSU AgCenter Audubon Sugar Institute. Both technologies are licensed by the LSU AgCenter to Crompion.

The clarifier incorporates a patent-pending turbulence-reduction device that helps solids settle out of the sugarcane juice more efficiently, resulting in less sucrose loss and cost and energy savings, according to LSU AgCenter officials.

“You want sucrose,” said Ben Legendre, director of the LSU AgCenter Audubon Sugar Institute. ”As the juice sits in the clarifier, sucrose degrades to glucose and fructose. So the quicker you get the juice out of the clarifier, the less sucrose you lose.”

A second patent-pending part of the clarifier incorporates a flash tank, which eliminates air bubbles and improves efficiency of the process. Excess air in the juice increases the settling time for the mud.

“If you don’t take the air bubbles out, you lose sugar,” said Luis Acevedo, chief engineer at Sterling Sugars Inc. in Franklin.

Five LLT clarifiers are operating in Louisiana. Three are at Sterling Sugars, and two other mills have one each, Schaffer said. Only two of the units have the added flash trough technology, and both are at Sterling.

“The clarifier saves energy and saves sucrose,” Schaffer said. “It’s a relatively inexpensive way to increase capacity of a factory by as much as 20 percent.”

Louisiana sugar mills commonly have four or more clarifiers, Schaffer said. The new technology can allow for only two.

With the flash trough included in the clarifier, the entire operation could be automated, saving labor and improving sugar quality, Schaffer said. “It has few parts, takes less space and requires less energy.”

Domestically, Louisiana has 11 sugarcane mills, Florida has four, and Texas and Hawaii have one each.

Crompion International markets specialty stainless steel products for sugarcane processing and other industries around the world. Schaffer expects to market the new LLT clarifiers to sugar mills in Mexico and Central and South America. The largest potential market is Brazil.

Rick Bogren

Last Updated: 1/8/2014 3:52:19 PM

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