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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: CHARACTERIZATION AND IMPROVEMENT OF SUGARCANE AND SUGARBEET PROCESS UNITS

Location: Commodity Utilization Research

2011 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

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 is a contaminant to the sugar industry that can lead to problems in both cane milling and refining of sugar. Tests have been conducted to improve and compare the Sugar Processing Research Institute (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. SPRI has recently had the rapid method accepted for tentative approval by International Commission for Uniform Methods of Sugar Analysis (ICUMSA), the international organization that approves analytical procedures for analysis of sugar products. The method will have major implications in the world-wide analysis of starch in sugarcane juice and raw sugar.

SPRI research efforts into clarification have continued to focus on alternative products that could assist the currently used “cocktail” of lime and flocculant for raw cane juice clarification. Polyaluminum coagulants (PAC) are compounds that help remove fine particles in sugar juice, and other clarification aids have been and continue to be compared to the current standards. For sugarcane mixed juice, an improvement in color removal and solution clarity would be of immense importance to the international sugar industry.

Acid beverage floc continues to be an important issue in sugar, and SPRI has recently developed an improved analytical procedure for predicting this problem. The currently approved method requires a 10 day testing window. The new test requires only 20 minutes and has been shown to be useful to the international bottling community. The test has been granted tentative approval by ICUMSA and is now being evaluated for further approval status. The technique is of real interest to the international bottling community and will prove to be of immense importance in eliminating the time required to conduct the test. Of equal importance is the light this test could shed on the contaminants that cause some sugar samples to produce acid beverage floc while others do not. This elucidation of the problem could prove valuable in determining the sugarcane issues that produce acid beverage floc and methods to eventually control it. The progress was monitored by periodic face-to-face conversations.


Last Modified: 8/21/2014
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