Alfa Laval warns sugar producers of waste

27 September 2010

Sugar producers are throwing away $300 million (€220 million) in energy costs sparked by heat transfer inefficiencies, according to Alfa Laval. The company says the figure represents the level of heat energy that can be recovered from various stages of the sugar refining process.

“Sugar refining involves the continual transfer of heat to and from different juice flows throughout the process, “says Ian Forrester of Alfa Laval in the UK. “If refiners employed Plate Heat Exchnagers instead of tubular exchangers, the difference in efficiency levels (thermal efficiency is 200–300 per cent greater in sugar applications) means that they could employ lower grade heat sources such as condensate or low pressure vapour in place of expensive steam for many parts of the process.”

Alfa Laval estimates that refiners could reduce steam needs by as much as five per cent. The steam saved could be used to generate electricity to power the process and any excess sold off to other users or to the national grid. Annual sugar production across the globe is around 160 million tons. Allowing a figure of approximately $14 for each ton of steam raised and with 0.4 tons required to process each ton of sugar crop, the estimated potential for savings is $300 million.

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