Measuring Turbidity During Sugar Processing

turbidity-during-sugar-processing-hi88713

Many foods we eat contain a variety of sweeteners, from natural sweeteners such as honey and molasses to refined sugars like granulated table sugar. In the 1970s, the development of high fructose corn syrup shifted food manufacturers away from using refined sugar in their products. High fructose corn syrup was an attractive alternative due to its less expensive raw materials and ease of handling. Recently, consumers have raised health concerns about the additive, leading to demand for products without high fructose corn syrup. As a result, food and beverage manufacturers have reverted back to using refined sugar in their products, offering them as an alternative to high fructose corn syrup varieties.

The sugar refining process begins with either sugar cane or sugar beets. Sugar cane plants store natural sugar in their stalks, which are crushed to extract cane sugar juice. The juice is then clarified to eliminate impurities. The clarified juice is then boiled in a controlled vacuum environment to remove excess moisture, leaving behind a crystallised sugar mass. The sugar mass then undergoes a series of washing, centrifugation and filtration steps. These steps result in raw sugar that is ready for consumption or for further processing into refined sugar.

The presence of suspended particles in the sugar juice impacts the efficiency of steps in the refining process. These suspended particles are removed during clarification. In clarification, a combination of lime, activated carbon, and a clarifying agent are added to the sugar juice. The activated carbon removes flavonoids and organic acids naturally present in the sugar juice, which can result in off flavours. The type of clarifying agent used to remove suspended particles can vary based on refinery preferences and whether sugar cane or sugar beets were used. The efectiveness of the clarifcation step is determined by performing turbidity analysis on the sugar juice. Low turbidity indicates sufcient clarifcation and a high quality juice ready for further processing.

Application

A sugar refinery contacted Hanna Instruments interested in testing the turbidity of their cane sugar juice during production. The customer reached out to Hanna as they were currently using a Hanna Instruments pH meter for measurement of their cane juice and were happy with its durability and ease of use. The customer wanted a benchtop turbidity meter that was simple to operate yet highly accurate. Additionally, they wanted the ability to log readings in order to track juice turbidity and optimise the use of their clarifiers.

hi88713Hanna Instruments suggested the HI88713 ISO Benchtop Turbidity Meter. The HI88713 measures in a range of 0 to 1000 FNU with a high accuracy of ±2% of the reading plus stray light. The customer appreciated that the HI88713 came equipped with everything they needed for measurement, including calibration standard cuvettes for up to five-point calibration and six sample cuvettes with caps. The HI88713 features a tutorial mode that guides the user step-by-step through the measurement process, making it extremely simple to use. The customer appreciated the log memory of 200 records for increased traceability. The HI88713 contains an infrared LED light source opposed to a tungsten light bulb. This was better suited for the application, as infrared light sources perform better in samples with coloured matrices like cane sugar juice. Overall, the customer was satisfied with the flexibility of the HI88713 and high level of service provided by Hanna.

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