A study of the cane sugar diffusion process.
A mathematical model has been developed to represent the extraction of sugar from sugar cane in the diffusion process. As a consequence of the structure of prepared cane, extraction is postulated to occur via two first order relations in parallel. The model was found to represent accurately the extraction behaviour observed in two different experimental configurations. Experiments on a laboratory scale were undertaken to elucidate the mechanism and basic rates of extraction. The results are consistent with the postulate that extraction takes place by a combination of washing and molecular diffusion. The diffusion process was simulated experimentally in a fixed-bed pilot plant diffuser. Model parameter values estimated from this data provide evidence of the effect of liquid hydrodynamics on the extraction process. These results have been interpreted in terms of liquid holdup, liquid velocities and the efficiency of liquid- solid contacting. It is shown how the model can be applied to full scale diffusers of the moving-bed type, which will enable prediction of performance and the choice of optimum operating conditions.