Sugar cane is the major global source of sucrose. Relatively easy to grow, maintain, harvest and process, this perennial grass-type tropical plant contains approximately 10% sucrose by weight. Because the sugar content of cane rapidly decreases upon harvesting, it is typically processed within 24 hours after cutting. To accommodate this time constraint, many of the sugar processing mills are located near the growing fields and do not contain the necessary equipment to produce white sugars and clear sugar syrups. Often, the raw sugar produced in the tropical climates is then shipped to other countries where it is refined locally.
Unlike beet sugar, the sucrose in sugar cane cannot be extracted by diffusion alone. Instead, the cell walls of sugar cane must be broken by crushing it in large mechanical rollers at the mill. This crushing process introduces color impurities into the raw sugar, so while cane sugar has lower mineral content than beet sugars, it typically has higher color content and requires refining. This figure shows a simplified sugar refining process. Click on the links in the table below to learn more about how Dow Water & Process Solutions can help you produce high quality sugar and syrups.
Simplified Sucrose Refining Process Schematic