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TECHNICAL OPERATING PRACTICES

DIFFUSION

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INDEX

MODULE 2: DIFFUSION

CONTENTS PAGE

CANE DIFFUSER ............................................................................................... 1


OPERATING THE DIFFUSER ........................................................... 1
THERMAL DENATURATION............................................................. 3
OPERATING TEMPERATURES ....................................................... 4
pH VALUE......................................................................................... 5
BRIX CONCENTRATION PROFILE .................................................. 6
PERCOLATION................................................................................. 7
IMBIBITION ....................................................................................... 9
RETENTION TIME .......................................................................... 10
JUICE SCREENING ........................................................................ 10
END RESULTS ............................................................................... 11
RESPONSIBLE PERSONNEL......................................................... 13
STATISTICAL PROCESS CONTROL .............................................. 15
MANAGING PERFORMANCE......................................................... 15

DIFFUSION – BASIC MAINTENANCE ...................................................... 20


SCREEN AND CHAIN MAINTENANCE ........................................... 20
CHAIN ..................................................................................... 20
BED SCREEN ......................................................................... 20
DRIVE SPROCKETS ............................................................... 21
DRAFT JUICE SCREEN .......................................................... 21
PUMPS.................................................................................... 21
LIFTING SCREWS................................................................... 21

DIFFUSION – HOUSEKEEPING ............................................................... 22


CLEANING AND HOUSKEEPING ................................................... 22
DSM SCREENS .............................................................................. 22
SUCROSE INVERSION .................................................................. 22

FIG 2.1 - DIAGRAM OF A TYPICAL DIFFUSER.......................................... 2


FIG 2.2 - ILLUSTRATION SHOWING A CELL ............................................. 3
FIG 2.3 - EXAMPLE OF TEMPERATURE PROFILE WITH CTRL LIMITS ... 5
FIG 2.4 - TYPICAL PH PROFILE................................................................. 6
FIG 2.5 - TYPICAL BRIX PROFILE ............................................................. 7
FIG 2.6 - DIAGRAM OF SETTINGS SHOWING PERCOLATION ANGLE .... 8
FIG 2.7 - A TYPICAL DSM SCREEN ......................................................... 11
CHART - CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT DIFFUSER PERFORMANCE .. 12

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MODULE2 : DIFFUSION

There are two types of diffusion processes:

1) Bagasse Diffusion, this is where shredded cane is processed through a 4 or 6 roller


mill before entering a diffuser. (There are currently (1999) no bagasse diffusers in
the ISL group, but we may well consider converting some of our cane diffusers to
bagasse diffusers in future as this increases the throughput capacity by up to 30%).

2) Cane Diffusion, is where shredded cane is fed directly into a diffuser.

Cane Diffuser

A typical diffuser is 60 meters long and 6 meters wide. The floor of the diffuser is made
of perforated plate, over which a slat carrier drags the cane.

Under the perforated floor, the diffuser is divided into a number of stages or cells
(Between 8 and 16). Ahead of the final stage, at different points, presswater and
imbibition enter the diffuser. At the final stage the thin juice is recycled, by stage, back
up the diffuser flowing in a counter direction to that of the cane bed. The thin juice is
recycled to just ahead of each stage until it is withdrawn from stage 1 at the front of the
diffuser.

All of the juice from stage 1 is heated to become scalding juice. This hot juice is poured
onto the incoming cane to saturate and heat it. A large portion of this scalding juice,
normally 50% to 75% is drawn off, as draft juice once it has saturated and heated the
bed of cane. This draft juice is sent to process for clarification etc. Refer to figure 2.1
Diagram of a typical diffuser.

Operating the Diffuser

Satisfactory and uniform material delivery to the diffuser will result in a flat cane surface
in the diffuser. An uneven cane surface will cause the formation of cavities in which
liquids of high or low Brix content will mix before entering the bagasse layer. The
consequence will be irregular diffuser Brix curves.

Unevenness of the cane surface across the width of the diffuser will be the result of
poor feeding, and this must be corrected immediately. The level across the width is
normally adjusted by movable flaps in the inlet carrier and is done on the run. If the bed
is not level, and is sloped, then a gap or channel may develop under the de-watering
drum through which the juice will flow.

Unevenness along the diffuser bed, i.e. in the direction of the material flow, can
normally be attributed to differences in cane quality, fluctuating throughputs and diffuser

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speeds. It has been found that fresh green cane will collapse as soon as it gets into
contact with the hot mixed juice, while seasoned or burnt cane tends to swell.
The height of the cane bed should ideally be maintained between 1, 4m and 1,2m.

If the cane bed level along the diffuser drops or rises above more than 100mm it may
be necessary to investigate the cane prep carrier control tuning parameters or observe
the way the operator is loading the cane into the prep line in order to maintain bed level.
Efforts should be made to contain height variations to within 100mm of the specified
control limits.

The bed lifting screws agitate and “lift” the cane, which increases percolation by
allowing the juice to flow through the cane bed. There are usually two sets of four
screws. The outer screws remove the cane from the sides of the Diffuser and the inner
screws push the cane to the sides of the Diffuser.

The juice level can vary according to individual diffusers. Typically, the juice level
should be ± 2cm to 6cm below the cane bed at the first window. At the second
window the juice level should be ± 12cm below the top of the cane bed. The juice level
can be adjusted by increasing or decreasing the flow rate of scalding juice and the
amount of imbibition. In addition changing the PI can also affect the level of the juice.
Inspections of the Diffuser are important, it is therefore essential to keep the windows
clean and the lights working within the diffuser.

Frequent inspections of the Diffuser cell levels are also necessary to ensure that there
are no blockages in the pipes and that the inter-stage pumps are operating efficiently.

The Scalding Juice Tank which is at the front end of the diffuser, (refer to Figure 2.1
Diagram Showing a Typical Diffuser) should be full, and overflowing into the Draft
Juice Tank from where the juice is pumped to the DSM screens and onto the mixed
juice scale. The draft juice tank level should always be low, as there should be a
constant flow of juice from this tank.

Figure 2.1 - Diagram Showing a Typical Diffuser

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All the other cells in the diffuser should be maintained at a constant level, the lower the
better. If any of the cells appear to be full this will indicate a problem and must be
attended to immediately. The first thing to check is that the inter-stage pump is
operating correctly. Refer Figure 2.2 - Illustration Showing a Cell.

Figure 2.2 - Illustration Showing a Cell

The efficiency of each inter-stage pump should be similar. This can be accomplished
by pushing the impeller forward until it just fouls the volute casing and then pulling it
back slightly. An easy check is to inspect the amount of amps drawn by each motor to
see if they are similar. If not inspect the pump.

Because of the large volumes of juice entering the cell below the presswater return
trough, the cell floods, causing water to migrate to the next cell. To prevent this from
occurring, a perforated plate is inserted in the sidewall of the diffuser to allow some of
the “juice” to enter a “presswater box” where juice is captured and fed forward to the
next cell via a pipe.

Thermal Denaturation

The effectiveness of juice extraction is determined by two main factors (1) the amount
of “Difficult Juice” entering the diffuser and (2) the operation of the diffuser.

There are two types of juice extractions; “Easy Juice” and “Difficult Juice”. Easy juice
is where there is free juice on the surface particle, which is easily removed by a simple
washing displacement process, because of its location on the cane particles.

Difficult juice is where the cells remain intact within the cane particles. In order to
extract this juice from the unbroken cells it is necessary to destroy the surrounding cell
tissue by applying heat to the tissue. This results in a process of osmotic and molecular
diffusion along an intricate network of small capillary passages, where on reaching the
surface the sucrose is removed by the displacement liquids.

The amount of “Difficult Juice” present in the cane is a direct factor of cane
preparation – the finer the preparation the less “Difficult Juice” present. It is the
“Difficult Juice” that will most likely determine the pol lost in the final bagasse.

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The treatment of applying heat to the plant tissue cell is called Denaturation. The
optimum temperature for denaturation of cane tissue is between 70° and 80° C.

Operating Temperatures

Maintaining the correct temperature “profile” along the diffuser is important as this has
an impact on a number of factors within the diffusion process and will affect the end
result. The temperature of the liquids influences the viscosity of the extraction fluid and
rate of extraction.

Also important is the fact that microbiological and enzyme activities are reduced at
temperatures above 75°C. There are bacteria capable of using the sucrose molecule to
live on and propagate their cell numbers thus destroying sugar, a process referred to as
inversion.

The thermophilic bacteria which causes this sucrose destruction are active in a
temperature range of 60°C to 70°C. The bacteria produce organic acids, principally
lactic acid. Above 75°C the activity of the bacteria drops off sharply and the formation
of lactic acid is reduced.

pH control is linked to temperature control. The combination of these two factors has a
direct effect on bacteria formation (organic acids) and plant corrosion. Lime is used in
the diffuser principally for pH and corrosion control.

If the temperature is too low then lime will aggravate the situation, because the bacteria
fermenting the sugar produce organic acids which lower the pH in the diffuser, thereby
creating an acid environment which is not ideal for further bacterial growth. As soon as
lime is added, the pH rises back to conditions ideal for bacteriological activity.
Therefore pH control in the absence of good temperature control could result in
lost sucrose.

Temperature is not important for bacteria alone, it also important for de-watering and its
influence on “packing” density. Excessive temperatures may lead to partial pulping of
bagasse and the extraction of undesirable non-sucrose materials. This in turn can
cause colour problems.

Adjusting the injection steam to the cells controls the temperature in the diffuser. One
should not use exhaust steam in the diffuser as the temperature is ± 125°C. Ideally the
diffuser temperature profile should be read and recorded once per shift if there are no
temperature indicators in the control room. Refer Figure 2.3 - Example of
Temperature Profile with Control Limits.

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D IFFU S ER TE M P ER ATU R E PR O FILE

105.0

100.0

95.0

90.0

85.0
TEMPERATURE
80.0

75.0

70.0

65.0

60.0

55.0

50.0
S .J. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Temp Aug98 88.9 88.8 90.9 93.3 94.4 95.2 94.8 91.9 92.3 91.4 88.9 90.4 80.6
UP PER C O N TR O L LIM IT 95 90 90 90 90 90 90 90 90 90 90 90 90
LO W ER C O N TR O L LIM IT 90 85 85 85 85 85 85 85 85 85 85 85 85
CE LL S

Tem p A ug98 U PP ER C O NT R O L LIM IT LO W E R CO NT RO L LIM IT

Figure 2.3 - Example of Temperature Profile with Control Limits

Operating temperatures throughout the diffuser should be maintained between 70° to


75° C for the presswater and 85° to 90° C at the outlet of the scalding heaters. The
individual cell temperatures in the diffuser differ and should be measured. In some
diffusers measuring the cell temperature controls the injected steam (below the
screens). If you are to prevent sugar degradation within the Diffuser then the cell
temperature must not drop below 75° C, especially when liming.

pH Value

The pH of the juice is measured at each cell. In order to control the pH at correct
levels, lime is added to maintain a constant pH of about 6.2 for juice purities of 78 and
above and 6.0 for purities of 78 and below.

Liming increases the pH from ± 5, thus reducing acidic effects and corrosion to the
steelwork. If lime is added at a point where the scalding juice enters the diffuser, the
pH should increase steadily across the length of the diffuser from 5 to 6.2. In some
diffusers it is added at three different places, however this sometimes leads to irregular
pH profiles. Some diffusers are now being constructed from 3CR12 (Stainless steel),
replacing mild steel and the necessity to closely monitor liming.

It is common practice to stop liming when extraction problems are being experienced.
(Over-liming can cause flocculation within the diffuser, thus reducing percolation). In
general the pH across the diffuser should NOT exceed 6.2. (Refer to Figure 2.4 for a
Typical pH Profile).

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DIFFUSER pH PROFILE (JULY98)

7.5

7.0

6.5

6.0
pH

5.5

5.0

JULY ACT UAL


4.5

4.0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
CELLS
ACTUAL PERFORMANCE CONTROL LIMIT

Figure 2.4 - Typical pH Profile

Brix Concentration Profile

The brix concentration profile describes the relation of sucrose concentration in the
material to be extracted and the extraction liquid. The concentration is measured in
terms of Brix. The difference of sucrose concentration is the driving force for extraction
processes, and next to particle size, the brix concentration profile is probably the most
important factor affecting the performance of the diffuser.

The extraction liquid for the diffusion process comprises two fractions:

q Imbibition water

q Presswater from the bagasse de-watering stage after the diffuser, which is very “thin
juice”

The Brix profile of the diffuser is a powerful tool and indicates the individual extraction of
each cell. If the Brix profile does not conform to the standard, then the conditions must
be analysed. In order to obtain good extractions, a standard “rule of thumb” is that the
Brix in cell 3 should be 4 and the Brix in cell 4 should be 3. Refer to figure 2.5 for a
Typical Brix Profile.

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D IFF USER BRIX PRO FIL E (JULY98)

12.0

11.0

10.0

9.0

8.0
PERCENTAGE

7.0

6.0
AC TUA L
5.0 PR OFILE

4.0
ID EAL BRIX
3.0 PR OFILE

2.0

1.0

0.0
S.J. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
AC TU AL PERFOR MA NC E 10 .9 8.0 6.8 5.6 4 .2 3.8 3 .2 2.6 2 .4 2 .1 1.8 1 .6 1.4
TAR GET PRO FIL E 10 .5 6.9 5.5 4 3 2.2 1 .8 1.5 1 .3 1 0.8 0 .7 0.6
CELLS

ACTU AL PERFO RM ANC E TARG ET PR OFILE

Figure 2.5 - Typical Brix Profile

Percolation

The percolation rate is the rate at which the extraction liquid flows through the fibre bed
in a diffuser. The percolation rate is directly related to the preparation of extraction
material and particle distribution inside the cane bed.

Juice flow velocity through the fibre bed as well as the juice distribution expressed, as
percolation angles are important. The Percolation angle depends on the particle size of
the cane and on the travelling speed of the cane bed. The angle of percolation
influences what happens inside the diffuser. It is important to know the minimum and
maximum percolation angles allowable, in order to optimise control of the diffuser,
ensuring that cells are not bypassed or that recycling occurs.

If results are to be used for comparisons, it is advisable to use percolation times for
diffusers, as they represent the characteristics of the bed and are independent of
diffuser speed.

Percolation angles are adjusted by shifting the distribution “trays”. The correct
positioning of distribution trays are vital to good percolation and performance of the
Diffuser, and are done by experimentation. Once the correct settings have been
established they are almost permanent.

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The only way to be certain about the positioning of the distribution trays is to get the
SMRI to conduct percolation tests, (a trace element, sometimes salt, is injected into the
juice and the test reveals in which cell the trace element appears). Generally BMA
diffusers are designed for a percolation rate of 0.12 meters per minute. Typically, it
should take 8.33 minutes for the juice to percolate through a 1-meter bed of cane with a
bed speed of O, 85 meters per minute. This means the distribution tray should be
positioned about 7.1 m ahead of the center of the receiving juice cell in order to achieve
the correct percolation angle.

If the percolation angle is not correct the juice will either fall short of the target cell
resulting in bypassing. If on the other hand it overshoots the target cell and recycling
will occur.

Refer to Figure 2.6 - Diagram of settings showing the percolation angle.

Figure 2.6 - Diagram of Settings Showing the Percolation Angle

A deterioration in percolation angle maybe due to a change in particle size distributed


over the bed height. This could be caused by the volume of Scalding Juice that
gradually washes fines to the bottom of the bed. The initial effect is not great, however,
it is unlikely that the fines will be recycled back to the top of the bed, - more likely they
will form a layer on the screen. If the volume of Scalding Juice is small, only a
proportion of the fines will be washed down through the bed. However, if the volume of
Scalding Juice flowing onto the cane coming into the diffuser, is excessive, then the
loose nature of the bed could permit the fines to be washed quickly to the base of the
cane bed where accumulation will occur, thus forming a layer of fines. This layer of
fines is not disturbed, as the lifting screws do not reach the bottom of the bed. As this
bottom layer of fines is less permeable than the rest of the bed it hinders percolation.
Its formation must be avoided. This can be achieved by decreasing the amount of
Scalding Juice to the minimum required to heat the cane.

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The function of Scalding Juice is to apply the initial hottest possible wash to the cane, in
order to maximise the extraction of sucrose at the first stage of diffusion. Scalding
Juice heats the cane bed and the amount applied also has an effect on leveling the
cane bed.

The Scalding Juice re-circulation rate in the diffuser must be constant and can be
measured. This re-circulation rate is dependent on cane quality and cane preparation
and is usually set at 10 to 12 times the fiber % cane, best results are achieved between
140% to 300% of cane. The standard BMA design is to recycle scalding juice up to
about 320% on cane but our mills have experimented with varying recycle volumes and
optimised to suit local conditions which is found to be in the range of 130 to 220% on
cane. Recycling less scalding juice will shift the workload from the scalding juice
heaters to the mixed juice heaters and one needs to be careful and ensure that the
correct temperatures (112°C) for clarification are still achieved through the mixed juice
heaters.

The Scalding juice must be poured into the diffuser as close to the front of the diffuser
as possible, without causing flooding.

Leveling of distribution trays is essential and must be done before starting up at the
beginning of the season. Periodic stop day checks should be carried out by pumping
water into the tray and allowing it to overflow in a thin curtain (about 5mm thick) along
the entire length of the tray. Tray levels are adjusted by adding or removing packing
under the trays at each end. The trays must be kept clean and free of bagasse and
other blockages at all times.

Frequent inspections of the diffuser must be made to ensure that there are no
blockages in the distribution trays. Exercise caution when opening the cell inspection
covers because of steam.

Imbibition

Imbibition water is added to the bagasse at the end of the diffuser and after passing
through the drying mill is returned to the diffuser as presswater. The imbibition rate is
the volume at which Imbibition water is added to the bagasse. The Imbibition rate
depends on the rate of percolation, which is influenced by the fibre content of the cane.
It is difficult to get good extraction performance with an Imbibition % Fibre of less than
350%, typically this ranges between 350% to 450%. Efforts should be made to
maintain the imbibition % fibre at 380%.

The imbibition flow rate is calculated as:

Tons imbibition water = tch x fib. % cane x Imb. % fibre


10,000

E.g. 200 x 15.6 X 380 = 180.5 tons imbibition


100 X 100

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The quality of imbibition water should be monitored from time to time to ensure that it is
brix free.

Retention Time

The retention time describes the time available for extraction inside a diffuser. Since
Denaturation extraction is a “slow” exchange process, longer retention times will
increase the extraction. Increasing the bed height and lowering the speed of the
chain can increase the retention time of the cane in the diffuser. This should increase
extraction. However, this has to be balanced against possible higher sucrose
destruction and colour formation in the juice. There is also a limit to the height of the
bed as you could foul the trays.

Increasing the cane bed speed will increase throughput. This can be varied within set
parameters (0.8 to 1meter per minute). A typical BMA design parameter for fibre
retention is 57 to 71 minutes for cane diffusion. (Based on an average BMA diffuser
length of 57M). Retention times are a function of diffuser design and cane quality.

Juice Screening

Ideally, mixed juice should be screened before being sent to the clarifiers in order to
remove fibre particles. It is important to regulate the juice feed to the screens, to avoid
flooding the screens. The screens should operate with an accumulation of material at
the discharge end constantly being displayed.

To achieve optimal screen performance, the weirs on the feed boxes must be level and
no juice should be allowed to overshoot or by-pass the screen. If flooding of the screen
does occur it may be necessary to check that the screens are not fouled or that
overfeeding is taking place.

It is important to regularly hose down the screens using high-pressure hot water, as it is
essential to prevent bacterial growth at the back of the screen.

The most widely used screen type is the static DSM screen.

Refer Figure 2.7 A - Typical DSM Screen.

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WIER

WIER

TO DIFFUSER
TO W.J. TANK
TO W.J. TANK TO DIFFUSER

Figure 2.7 - A Typical DSM Screen

End Results

A typical cane diffuser should be able to operate at throughput design capacity,


producing mixed juice at a brix of between 10 to 12. The bagasse moisture leaving the
final drying mill should be less than 50% with a pol % bagasse of less than 0.9.

See milling section for operational controls on drying mill (de-watering mills).

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CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT – DIFFUSER PERFORMANCE CHART


WEEK N° _______ DAY N° __________
TEMPERATURE

SHIFT TIME
SJ CELL1 CELL2 CELL3 CELL4 CELL5 CELL6 CELL7 CELL8 CELL9 CELL10 CELL11 CELL12 COMMENT
RECORDED

2-10

10-6

6-2

RECORD DIFFUSER BED HEIGHT ALONG THE DIFFUSER AS PER PHYSICAL INSPECTION
TIME
INSPECTION POINT 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
RECORDED
2-10

10-6

6-2

RECORD DIFFUSER JUICE LEVEL ALONG THE DIFFUSER AS PER PHYSICAL INSPECTION
TIME
INSPECTION POINT 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
RECORDED
2-10

10-6

6-2

INSPECTION OF INTER-STAGE PUMPS: L=LEAKING GLAND, A=AMPS, F=LEAKING FLANGE, Ö = OK


IMBIBITION
(LOG LETTER IN APPROPRIATE BOX)
FIBRE IMB IMB
IMBIBITION % FIBRE % TCH TCH TCH SJ DJ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 OTHER
CANE CAL. ACT.
2-10 380

10-6 380

6-2 380

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14

Responsible Personnel:

FRONT-END FOREMAN

CONTROL ROOM
OPERATOR

In order to optimise diffusion the following must be controlled:

IMBIBITION RATE
1.

Maintain the imbibition % fibre at 380%. Calculate the imbibition rate as follows:

Tons imbibition water = tch x fib. % cane x Imb. % fibre


10,000
Remember to adjust the rate when the diffuser bed speed is changed.

2. SCALDING JUICE

The Scalding Juice re-circulation rate in the diffuser must be constant and set at
10 to 12 times the fiber % cane, best results are achieved between 140% to
200% of cane (e.g. fibre % cane = 15.6%, Tons cane per hour = 200. Therefore
Scalding requirements = 15.6% x 12 = 187.2% X 200 = 574.4 tons scalding juice.
Also expressed as 574.4 ¸ 200 = 287.2% of cane).

3. JUICE LEVEL

Maintain the juice level as specified, in some diffusers this is ± 2cm to 6cm below
the cane bed at the first window and ± 12 cm below the cane bed level at the
second.

4. BED CONDITION

Level of the cane surface across the width of the diffuser and level along the
diffuser bed, i.e. in the direction of the material flow.

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5. BED HEIGHT

The height of the cane bed should be maintained at ±1,2 m (1,5m to 1,2m) at the
front of the diffuser tapering off and compacting to around 0.5m - 0.8m (1,0m to
1,2 m) at the end of the diffuser. The bed level may rise slightly after the bed
lifting screws!

6. TEMPERATURE

Operating temperatures throughout the diffuser should be maintained between 70°


to 75° C for the presswater and 90° to 95°C at the outlet of the scalding heaters.
The diffuser cell temperatures must not drop below 75°C, especially when liming.

7. SPEED

Normally maintained at 0.8 to 1meter per minute. A typical BMA design parameter
for fibre retention is between 56 and 70 minutes for cane diffusion on a 56-metre
diffuser.

8. CANE PREPARATION

The particle size in cane diffusion depends on the quality of mechanical cane
preparation in front of the diffuser. The cane preparation index (PI) required for
cane diffusion should be between 91 and 92%.

9. BRIX

The Brix profile indicates the individual extraction of each cell. If the Brix profile
does not conform to the standard, then the conditions must be analysed. In order
to obtain good extractions, a standard “rule of thumb” is that the Brix in cell 3
should be 4 and the Brix in cell 4 should be 3. Check cell levels and pump
efficiencies.

10. DSM SCREEN

To achieve optimal screen performance, the weirs on the feed boxes must be level
and no juice should be allowed to overshoot or by-pass the screen. If flooding of
the screen does occur it may be necessary to check that the screens are not
fouled or that overfeeding is taking place.

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MANAGING PERFORMANCE THROUGH WEEKLY REVIEW MEETINGS

STATISTICAL PROCESS CONTROL

Diffusion

The following measurements can be presented on run or trend charts in order to give a
“picture” of what is happening to the extraction process. Graphs are particularly useful
when explaining to people plant behaviour patterns. Graphs are simple to understand
and save considerable when explaining performances. For Diffusion the following
graphs are recommended:

Ø Fibre %Cane
Ø Throughput
Ø Cell Temperature
Ø Brix Profile
Ø Pol% bagasse
Ø Moisture % bagasse

Fibre % Cane

This data plays an important function in predicting whether the fibre % cane is
increasing or decreasing and at what rate this is happening. Because fibre plays such
an important factor in the manufacturing process we need people to understand what is
happening so that they can “fine tune” their operations to deal with changing conditions.
The trend graph is a powerful tool for this application as the example below illustrates.

FIBRE%CANE TREND

15

14.5

14
PERCENTAGE

13.5

13

12.5
Trendline

12
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
DAYS (SAMPLES)

Fibre%CANE Expon. (Fibre%CANE)

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TECHNICAL OPERATING PRACTICES MODULE 2 DIFFUSION PAGE 17

Throughput

There is a need for people to appreciate the financial implications associated with lost
throughput. The amount of cane not processed through the diffuser should be
calculated and valued on a weekly basis. This information should then accompany the
throughput graph so that operational and maintenance staff can understand the costs of
“Lost-Production”. The rationale being, had the cane been processed it could have
been sold.

Below is a typical graph that can be produced. It is simple to read and understand.

Lost-Production

WEEK 11 DIFFUSER THROUGHPUT

2900

2700
2615
2580
2500 2503 2523

2300
TCH

2222

2100
2037
1988
1900

1700

1500

09 10 11 12 13 14 15
6/ 6/ 6/ 6/ 6/ 6/ 6/
/0 /0 /0 /0 /0 /0 /0
98 98 98 98 98 98 98
DAYS

ACTUAL THROUGHPUT 92% CAPACITY

Once the Operational Staff have seen the throughput information they need to explain
the cause(s) for the lost-production. It would either have resulted through operational
downtime or mechanical downtime.

Once the downtime has been accounted for – the team are then able to do a simple risk
analysis so that they can try to predict where the operations are at risk for the
forthcoming week.

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TECHNICAL OPERATING PRACTICES MODULE 2 DIFFUSION PAGE 18

Diffuser Temperature Profile

TEMPERATURE PROFILE FOR WEEK 11

105

100

95

91 91 91
90 90 90
88 88 88
TEMPERATURE

85 85

81
80

77
75
73

70 70

65

60
SJ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
CELLS

ACTUAL AVERAGE TEMP. UPPER CONTROL LIMIT LOWER CONTROL LIMIT

From the graph it can be seen that the temperature was out of control on 9 of the 13
measuring points. This represents 69% of the diffuser.

The graph can be used to illustrate what the profile should be and as a tool for problem
solving and measuring for improvement.

Diffuser Brix Profile

The difference of sucrose concentration is the driving force for extraction processes,
and next to particle size, the brix concentration is an important factor affecting the
performance of the diffuser. The graph simply compares the current brix profile with an
ideal brix profile. The data can be used to problem solve, measure for improvement
and recognise operators once they are able to control the brix at the desired profile.
Refer to the brix profile example.

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TECHNICAL OPERATING PRACTICES MODULE 2 DIFFUSION PAGE 19

Diffuser Brix Profile

DIFFUSER BRIX TEMPLATE

12

10

8
BRIX

0
S.J. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
BRIX TEMPLATE 10.5 6.9 5.5 4 3 2.2 1.8 1.5 1.3 1 0.8 0.7 0.6
ACTUAL PROFILE 10.9 8.0 6.8 5.6 4.2 3.8 3.2 2.6 2.4 2.1 1.8 1.6 1.4
CELLS

BRIX TEMPLATE ACTUAL PROFILE

The graphs showing Pol % and moisture % bagasse show what has already happened
during the process and are the end results. As such these along with the throughput
graph demonstrate how well the diffuser has been controlled. Such graphs are
powerful drivers and in the hands of a competent FLM who can use them as a people
motivator.

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TECHNICAL OPERATING PRACTICES MODULE 2 DIFFUSION PAGE 20

DIFFUSER POL%BAGASSE

2
1.9
1.8

1.6

1.4
1.32 1.35
1.27 1.29
1.22
PERCENTAGE

1.2 1.19

1 Trendline

0.8

0.6

0.4

0.2

0
09/06/98

10/06/98

11/06/98

12/06/98

13/06/98

14/06/98

15/06/98
DAYS (WEEK 11)

ACTUAL PERFORMANCE UPPER CONTROL LIMIT Expon. (ACTUAL PERFORMANCE)


Expon. (ACTUAL PERFORMANCE) Linear (ACTUAL PERFORMANCE)

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TECHNICAL OPERATING PRACTICES MODULE 2 DIFFUSION PAGE 21

DIFFUSION – BASIC MAINTENANCE


SCREEN AND CHAIN MAINTENANCE

Chain

A common problem with BMA diffusers is the carry over of cane fibres on the chain
beneath the diffuser. Sometimes a chain wash system is used to clean the chain, to
prevent the accumulation of cane fibres on the slats and chain from lifting the chain off
the sprocket. Imbibition water is sprayed onto the chain, thereafter the wash water is
usually returned to the tail end of the diffuser where the brix in the cell is most similar to
the chain wash water brix.

The standard BMA diffuser chain normally requires pins and bushes to be replaced
after about eight years and then the whole chain after about 15 years, Illovo Sugar has
specified a superior quality chain made of induction hardened EN19 links and Tsubaki
pins and bushes which will give longer service than the standard BMA chain (example
Gledhow chain installed in 1988 shows no significant wear after 10 years).

The most common areas of wear are the sliding surface of the link plates and the
bearing surfaces of the pins and bushes, It is not necessary to remove the chain or
pieces of the chain every offcrop for inspection. The length of chain can be measured
over say twenty links to establish the amount of stretch (or wear on the pins and
bushes), should this be more than 0,5mm per link then a link should be removed to
inspect the pin and bush.

The wear on the link plates can easily be measured in place, the maximum allowable
wear from a design strength point of view is 7,5mm on each sliding surface (i.e. a total
of 15mm across the depth of the link).

On shutdown at the end of the season, it is advisable to arrange an oil drip feed onto
the chain and allow the diffuser to run for a day whilst lubricating the chain for off-crop
storage.

Bed Screen

A flat bar should be welded to every sixth slat. This flat bar should be positioned to
clean the pith etc. from the top of the screens. A certain amount of cane fibre
accumulates on these slats, if too many flat bar scrapers are used then excessive cane
fibre may be carried on the chain beneath the diffuser making chain washing more
difficult.

On stop days check for cracks adjacent to welds and wear under the de-watering drum.

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TECHNICAL OPERATING PRACTICES MODULE 2 DIFFUSION PAGE 22

Drive Sprockets

The profile of all drive sprocket teeth should be checked with a template, when more
that 5mm wear is detected, the sprockets should be built up to the correct profile.
(Special welding rods and techniques are required, an Illovo Sugar specification is
available for this process)

Draft Juice Screen

The operation of the Juice Screen should be closely monitored to ensure that there is
no bypassing of the screen. Typical screen apertures are 0,7mm and these should be
maintained in a clean state by high-pressure washing, brushing and chemical cleaning.

Pumps

Check that all pumps are in good working order - the “glands” are not leaking
excessively, flanges are not leaking and the motor amperage is fluctuating within
“normal limits”. High motor amperages on the ammeters may indicate some mechanical
problem with the pump (bearings, clearance obstruction etc), low amperages may
indicate low pump efficiency, blocked piping, closed valves etc. The motor should be
correctly sized for a full cell of juice with the delivery valve fully open.

Lifting Screws

Ensure that the flat plates on top of the lifting screws are in place. The plates are there
to stop the cane from being screwed to the roof of the diffuser. Bearing lubrication
must be checked, (the older diffusers have grease packed bearings, the latest
diffusers have automated continuous lubricators for the lifting screw bearings which is a
worth while modification to consider if your diffuser has not already been modified).

Check motor currents, and mark the normal working amperages on the ammeters, an
unexplained increase in current is the first indicator that something could be
malfunctioning.

Check that the Shearpins have not been replaced with bolts or solid bars. If the
shearpin does not fracture as designed the screw could be bent.

If the screws are removed, check that when they are reinstalled they are rotating in the
correct direction and that the screws closest to the sides of the diffuser are screwing the
cane away from the wall and not towards the wall which will cause the screw to run at
high amps or stall. Generally the screws are installed with each alternate screw of
opposite flight handing and turning in the opposite direction

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TECHNICAL OPERATING PRACTICES MODULE 2 DIFFUSION PAGE 23

DIFFUSION - HOUSEKEEPING

CLEANING AND HOUSEKEEPING

The De-watering Mill must be kept clean and free from obstructions in order to optimise
performance. Have a checklist of all the things that need to be attended to in order to
keep the mill in the best possible operating condition. Ideally the mill should be washed
down with hot water 80° C.

The draft and scalding juice troughs should be cleaned each and every stop day. (Build
up of sand during the week).

DSM Screens

The rear of the screens must be cleaned regularly by washing with caustic to remove
scale and hosing down the back of the screen with hot water to prevent bacterial
growth. Alternatively the back of screens can be washed and brushed using a soft
brush.

Sucrose Inversion

Sugar inversion can result in major losses if the plant and equipment are not correctly
cleaned and sanitised. Low temperatures, long retention times, dead pockets of juice,
poor milling and screen

COPYRIGHT © LLOVO SUGAR LIMITED TOPS MODULE 2: DIFFUSION 15--05-00