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Sugar producers worldwide are missing out on USD300m (GBP190m) in potential energy savings by opting for the wrong kind of heat-transfer technology, according to heat-transfer specialist Alfa Laval.

The company said that this is the level of heat energy that could be recovered from various stages of the sugar-refining process.

Ian Forrester of Alfa Laval in the UK said: ’Sugar refining involves the continual transfer of heat to and from different juice flows throughout the process.

’If refiners employed plate heat exchangers instead of tubular exchangers, the difference in efficiency levels [thermal efficiency is 200-300 per cent greater in sugar applications] means that they could employ lower-grade heat sources such as condensate or low-pressure vapour in place of expensive steam for many parts of the process,’ he added.

Alfa Laval estimates that refiners could reduce steam requirements by as much as five per cent.

The steam saved could be used to generate electricity to power the process and any excess could be sold off to other users or to the national grid.

Annual sugar production across the globe is around 160 million tons.

Allowing a figure of approximately USD14 for each ton of steam raised and with 0.4 tons required to process each ton of sugar crop, the estimated potential for savings is USD300m.

Alfa Laval's operations are based on leading global positions in the three key technologies of heat transfer, separation and fluid handling. Continuous product development is essential to strengthen competitiveness. About 2.7 per cent of total sales are invested annually in research and development, resulting in 25–30 new product launches a year.

Alfa Laval's products are sold in approximately 100 countries, 50 of which have their own sales organisations. The company has 20 large production units (12 in Europe, six in Asia and two in the US) and 70 service centres.

The customer's peace of mind depends on having the right service setup. For Alfa Laval, service is a total concept that covers everything from supplying the smallest spare part to being a lifetime performance partner. Alfa Laval has a global network with more than 200 skilled service specialists, a broad range of competitive service solutions, unique expertise based on more than 120 years in business and service centres in hundreds of locations in more than 50 countries.

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