How Our Sugar is Made
The first stage of processing involves cleaning the sugar beets. 75,000 tonnes of soil and 1,800 tonnes of stones are removed and utilised for topsoil and aggregate. Farmers have been working on reducing the amount of soil and stones that we bring into the site from the field - this is an ongoing effort.
Clean beet is then sliced into thin strips called cosettes. These are pumped into 3 diffusion towers where they are mixed with hot water to extract the sugar. They are then passed on to be purified.
The remaining pulp from the sugar beet after this process is compressed into 120,000 tonnes of dry and 20,000 tonnes of wet animal feed. This produces the steam you might see rising from our chimneys.
During purification, the raw juice is heated and a lime solution is added to remove any impurities. The precipitated solution is filtered, washed and pressed, to produce 70,000 tonnes of LimeX each year.
Power is generated in a modern efficient Combined Heat and Power Station, and is used by both the sugar factory and the packaging plant, as well as exported to the national grid electrical network. Steam used for making electricity is then used as the energy source in the factory evaporators which boil off the water from the purified juice, and creates a ‘Thick Juice’ ready for crystallisation.
Crystallisation takes place in vacuum pans which boil the juice at lower temperatures. The juice is seeded with tiny crystals of sugar to help more crystals form and grow. When the crystals are grown, they are separated from the sugar juice in centrifuges, then washed, dried and cooled. They are then either stored or passed through a tunnel to the packing site.