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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

2010 Annual Report

1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
Determine the physico-chemical properties from sugarcane varieties subjected to new harvesting practices. Examine the use of innovative compounds, including polyaluminium compounds, to improve clarification of sugarcane and sugarbeet juices.

1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Participate in sugarcane variety trash trials to characterize the physico-chemical quality and processing ability of different components of green sugarcane trash. Undertake industrial studies to find improvements in clarification processing problems.

3.Progress Report

Two commercial sugarcane varieties and one “energy cane” were studied with various levels of extraneous matter (cane leaf trash and tops) for typical quality analysis, including brix (a measurement for sugar content), sucrose, fiber, and total recoverable sugar, as well as, more detailed analyses for potential of Hydrogen (pH), total polysaccharide (which are big sugar molecules), starch, and ash. Significant differences were obtained for most parameters among varieties and treatments. The same was done for 29 different plants of five species of sugar cane and a related species. Data showed important differences among the parameters studied indicating the importance of compositional analysis of material prior to breeding to indicate the efficiency of parental use whether for sugar production or for alternate products including energy.

SPRI research efforts into clarification have recently focused on alternative sources of polyaluminum coagulants (PAC for short, which are compounds that help remove fine particles in sugar juice) and other clarification aids compared to previous work. Several sugarcane and sugarbeet products have been tested using these newer products. For sugarcane mixed juice, an improvement in color removal and solution clarity when compared to the previous sources of PAC was observed. None of these products caused any changes in sugar levels, which is the most important requirement for use of these compounds in the sugar industry. More work needs to be done to find the optimum dosage for these materials.

During the processing of sugarcane, especially green harvested sugarcane, the starch found in the growing point region, green leaves, and stalk of the plant, is transferred to the juice. Starch in the sugar industry can lead to problems in both milling and refining of sugar. Tests have been conducted to improve and compare the SPRI rapid method for starch determination in raw sugar and in mixed juice to other methods. This rapid method is inexpensive, easy to perform, and uses readily available equipment. Six samples can be analyzed in 20 minutes at a cost of approximately $0.10 to $0.15 per sample. The SPRI rapid method correlates well with the SPRI standard method for both raw sugar and cane juice. Several organizations have already adopted the SPRI rapid method into their routine for starch analysis, saving time and money compared to previous methods that were being used. SPRI will attempt to have this method adopted as an official method in the international organization which regulates sugar testing.

The progress was monitored by periodic face-to-face conversations.

Last Modified: 10/4/2015
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