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Optimise production in sugar refineries and improve efficiency using Aggreko’s flexible energy solutions

29 Aug 2016 | by Aggreko | Category: Non classé, Sugar
Energie en sucrerie

The 2016/2017 season should see an increase in the beet tonnage transformed for the final year of the quota regime. From sugar beet to refined sugar – power requirements at every stage of the manufacturing process. In order to ensure that the sugar stored inside the beet reaches the consumer exactly as nature intended, it must be extracted by eliminating each of the other constituents of the plant. This extraction process requires specific expertise involving heavy industrial machinery. At the end of this process, the sugar will have successively been extracted, purified, concentrated and then crystallised without being chemically altered or transformed.

With innovative and economical solutions, Aggreko can help you satisfy your power generation and refrigeration requirements. Our solutions include:

  • Gas-powered generators, co-generation –
    • Lower operating costs
    • Reduced environmental impact
  • Additional electrical power – increased production capacity without capital expenditure
  • Connection to the grid – high voltage power plants
  • Additional cooling capacity for every stage of the sugar production process

Aggreko offers 5 different solutions specific for the sugar production industry:

 1 – Turbo-generator electrical backup with 9 MW of gas generators

Sugar beet has to be processed quickly to avoid deterioration. The factory’s beet stock is enough to guarantee 48 hours of continuous operation.

On exiting the washer, the beets are cut into ‘cossettes’, or strips, which are then transported to a diffuser, where they are treated in a counter-current hot water flow arrangement. During this process, the soluble compounds in the beet migrate into the water via osmosis.

The extracted liquor still contains 85% water. Evaporation increases the liquor’s concentration until a syrup is obtained with a concentration level close to saturation. This evaporation process takes place in a multiple-effect evaporator.

The quantity of water to be removed is so great that it satisfies the factory’s water requirements.  The steam produced is recycled and used to generate electrical power (via combined heat and power (CHP), or co-generation) which is used for the operation of the factory.

For one sugar refinery in France, Aggreko connected nine 1-MW gas generators to the client’s grid, providing a total power of 8 MW. It was operational 24 hours a day for three weeks, and then used as a backup at the end of the sugar production season.

Customer benefits:

  • Significant savings on energy bills compared with a diesel solution and
  • Power supply security during the sugar production season

Groupe electrogene Sucrerie

Centrale groupes electrogenes gaz

2 – Cooling of the turbo-generator or the hydraulic pump

Aggreko regularly sets up temporary, energy saving cooling solutions using our dry-coolers and/or cooling towers to cool the turbo-generator or the hydraulic pump during the sugar production season.

3 – Lowering the process water temperature before discharge into rivers

Regulation requires that water discharged into rivers does not exceed a certain temperature in order to preserve living micro-organisms. Cooling tower rental solutions can provide a tailored response to these environmental constraints.

4 – Crystallisation – accelerating the cooling process of the syrup/crystal mixture

Crystallisation involves separating the sucrose from the impurities in the concentrated liquor. It is carried out in two or three stages called ‘jets’.

Each jet consists of a crystallisation, a blending and a centrifugation phase. The concentrated liquor is heated and agitated in large boilers that operate under partial vacuum. Concentration continues and very fine sugar crystals are introduced to trigger crystallisation. The syrup/crystal mixture so obtained then passes into a blender for cooling while crystallisation continues. Finally, it is spun in turbines or centrifuges to separate the crystals from the remaining liquor.

In order to accelerate the cooling of the syrup/crystal mixture during the crystallisation phase, Aggreko can deliver, install and commission a temporary cooling unit with enough cooling capacity to match your needs, with a rental period perfectly suited to your requirements.

5 – Drying, storage and conditioning – temperature and humidity control in silos

The crystallised white sugar is removed from the bottom of the turbine, dried and then chilled.  Next it is sieved, sorted and weighed, then transported to the bagging area or placed in huge silos (holding several thousand tonnes) where it is stored in bulk.

Our specialists have the experience required to provide you with temporary temperature and humidity control using different rental solutions for industrial dehumidifiers, cooling systems and/or heating generators, or air treatment units.

Going even further – primary energy consumption in sugar refineries during the season

Sugar production is an energy-intensive process. Energy optimisation is a key factor in sector competitiveness, which is largely centred on reducing the plant’s environmental impact. In 2012, French sugar refineries used on average 0.66 gigajoules of energy per tonne of processed beets, the equivalent of 183 KWh or 20 litres of petrol – representing a 25% reduction in energy consumption in 20 years.

Energy savings can be made in sugar production primarily by:

  • efficient co-generation installations, enabling factories to be self-sufficient in electricity (or even have a surplus),
  • optimum recycling of steam produced during the beet water evaporation process,
  • improved technical and thermal efficiency of the equipment being used – boilers, evaporators, etc.

Co-generation performance in sugar production

Co-generation is a solution which enables refineries to be autonomous in electricity and steam during the sugar production season (over 100 days per year) and also enables the optimum use of primary energy resources.

The average efficiency of this form of production is 90%, compared with 30% for combined cycle gas thermal generation.

This type of production takes place in winter, at times of consumption peaks when the electricity being produced has a significant thermal component.  All sugar refineries produce their electricity by co-generation in order to supply all of their electrical power requirements for the season (from September to the end of December).

Sugar refineries run at full capacity for around four months of the year.  For the other eight months, equipment is run less frequently, which can lead to technical problems when the machines are restarted.

Aggreko has the experience required to help you face these challenges. Contact us today to discuss your requirements.

sugar on a table,sugar crystal on the wooden board

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