High Speed Sugar Dissolving

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Sugar dissolving can be fairly straightforward, but there are some common problems which occur even with this simple mixing process. They are also ways in which processing can be improved and made more energy and cost effective. Here Silverson Machines explain some of these problems and solutions which can help to cut costs and processing times.

The form of the raw material

For some manufacturers, using liquid sugar, especially for syrups or for use in beverages, is the easiest and quickest way to achieve the results they want. But purchasing the sugar in liquid form can be very expensive. For some, this expense is preferable to dissolving granulated sugar, which itself is still a fairly expensive ingredient, as the sugar can take a long time to dissolve and mixing equipment can be costly to run for long periods of time. Where granulated sugar is used, other challenges arise, such as handling large volumes of powder and the need to work at raised temperatures to aid the dissolution of the sugar, which further increases the processing costs.

Powder Handling

With large scale manufacture, getting large volumes of powder into the vessel may require working at height or conveyor systems which can be costly and high maintenance.  Dusting and other issues where partially dissolved material can build up in the working area can add to problems.

Heating and Cooling the mixture

Heating the water to help the sugar to dissolve can considerably add to costs, especially where the mixture has to be held at temperature for long periods.  This is exacerbated if the mixing system is inefficient.  Additional time has to be allowed for the mixture to cool after the sugar has dissolved.  Problems can arise here because crystallisation of the syrup can occur during cooling. This would cause the sugar to harden and would have a knock-on effect on subsequent processing stages.

Hygiene

For applications in the food industry, hygiene must be taken into consideration.  Incomplete solubilisation of sugar can lead to sedimentation, blocking of vessel outlets and a reduced yield in the end product so this has to be avoided.  Any sugar remaining undissolved in the mix can also stick to vessel walls and mixing equipment. If left for subsequent batches this can raise hygiene issues. 

The Solution – high shear mixing

All of these problems can be solved with the use of a Silverson High Shear mixer. To demonstrate the effectiveness of Silverson mixers for this application, an application video has been produced. This video shows how a high shear Batch mixer can produce a 66 Brix Sugar solution in a few minutes, all at ambient temperature.

How is a Silverson mixer able to do this? Instead of just moving the sugar granules around inside the vessel waiting for them to gradually dissolve, as with traditional agitators and stirrers, the high speed rotation of the Silverson rotor/stator workhead draws the liquid and sugar granules upwards into the workhead, preventing sedimentation of sugar in the bottom of the vessel. Inside the workhead the granules are subjected to intense but targeted shear in the precision gap between the rotor and stator before being forced through the stator and back into the main body of the mix. With each pass through the workhead, the sugar granules are reduced in size, exposing the largest possible surface area of the sugar to the water. This greatly accelerates the solubilisation process and a sugar solution can be achieved in a matter of minutes, without the need for heating the water. This eliminates any additional time and costs associated with heating and cooling the mixture.

Another advantage of using a Silverson mixer for this application is the versatility of the mixer. The same mixer can be used to disperse other ingredients commonly used alongside sugar in the food industry such as gums and thickening agents. Silverson mixers can also be used for the reclamation of waste confectionery and other products. This can be especially useful for those in the confectionery industry as ‘out of spec’ or waste product can be reworked and expensive raw materials such as sugar can be reclaimed.

Along with the Silverson Batch mixer, there are a number of other mixers in the Silverson product range which are suitable for dissolving sugar at ambient temperature. For small scale production and R&D Silverson Laboratory mixers can produce a fully solubilised solution of up to 20 litres. For larger batches the Silverson Flashmix powder/liquid mixer is ideal. The Flashmix is fitted with a powder feed hopper, meaning that sugar can be loaded into the hopper at floor level, so there is no need for conveying systems to get it to the top of the vessel. The Flashmix can incorporate 110kg of sugar in less than 2 minutes as seen in the ‘High Speed Sugar Dissolving’ video available on the Silverson website.

You can find out more about this application, other applications in the Food industry and the Silverson product range at www.silverson.co.uk/sugar

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