Cane sugar is most produced sugar type in the world. Cane sugar is a well known commodity since ancient era which the exact date of earliest cane sugar production is unknown. However, most historian agreed that South Asia region is the earliest production place.
Cane Sugar Short History
The cane itself is an indigenous plant in South and Southeast Asia. Early processing of sugarcane was done traditionally in a small batch. First, cane stalk is crushed and milled to extract its juice. After that, the juice is evaporated and crystallized. The result is not stable in quality and quantity.
During industrial awaken era, people tried to improve sugar processing. The invention of continuous process and basic refining method are remarkable progress during this era, improving production and quality capability of sugar producer. Then, sugar processing step is becoming state-of-the-art.
Cane Sugar Processing
The first step of cane sugar processing is:
Cane Crushing and Milling
Harvested cane (expected to be clean from its leaves) enters the shredder to be shredded into smaller part. During this step, the process shall avoid pressing the cane stalk which may create juice loss. After that, the cane enters mills.
Nowadays, five stages mill is commonly used. In the third stage, addition of water may improve the extraction process. The common term of water addition in mills is imbibition. By this imbibition, complete juice extraction from the stalk (which is then called as bagasse) is possible. Extracted juice drips to collector underneath the mills. Then, it is pumped into a temporary tank. It shall not stay in the tank for a long time as the sugar content may decrease. Bagasse contamination to the juice shall also be minimized to avoid high load in next clarification process. Meanwhile, bagasse is transferred to a drier to remove the moisture. The bagasse is good source of fuel (to produce steam and electricity) and also as paper raw material.
From the above step, we can obtain fresh cane juice. The juice shall undergo clarification process before production of cane sugar crystal which is the final form of sugar we can consume safely.