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Gentle handling for sliced sugar beet

22 June 2020

Find out how British Sugar ensures gentle handling of sugar beet slices to help enhance its sugar extraction process. 

British Sugar  – the sole producer of the UK’s beet sugar crop – processes around eight million tonnes of sugar beet every year, to produce up to 1.4 million tonnes of sugar from its four manufacturing plants.

Wissington is the company’s largest factory and is believed to be one of the most efficient sugar processing sites in Europe, processing over three million tonnes of sugar beet each season.

After the sugar beet is harvested and off-loaded at the factory, it is washed and mechanically sliced into thin V-shaped strips called cossettes, to offer the maximum surface area for sugar extraction. The cossettes are then passed to a diffuser to extract the sugar content into a water solution in a process known as leaching.  

Pumping of these sugar beet cossettes requires delicate handling in order to extract the maximum amount of sugar, without damaging the crop. British Sugar specified the use of Hidrostal pumps for this application because of the low shear, gentle handling properties of the pumps, which helps ensure that there is no damage to the cossettes on their journey to the diffuser.  

All Hidrostal pumps contain the Hidrostal Screw Centrifugal Impeller – a design which sees the single spiral vane impeller axially extended into the suction of the pump to create a large free passage for solids, but at the same time maintaining an optimum hydraulic design leading to high efficiencies, low shear pumping and low velocity at the pump inlet.

Hidrostal supplied four of these purpose-built bearing frame pumps for use at the Wissington site. The pumps have a 300mm suction and discharge combined with 150mm of free passage and are able to handle 450 l/sec at Best Efficiency Point (BEP) to a pumped head of 22m. Regulable liners allow the impeller and liner clearance to be adjusted to maintain the pump’s efficiency and performance. The pumps combine the benefits of extended periods between maintenance, improved reliability and a compact cost-effective construction and will contribute effectively to the 400,000 tonnes of quality sugar produced per annum at the factory.

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