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Lewatit® products from the specialty chemicals company LANXESS decolorize and desalinate raw sugar solutions and make them crystal clear.
 
In a culturally diverse country like India, every festival epitomizes the social and cultural uniqueness and the manner in which these festivals are celebrated. It is fascinating to note how the smaller details end up playing the defining difference between two festivals, be it the choice of clothing, cuisine or even the choice of sweets. Sweets play a very important role and add to the fervor of the celebrations - be it Holi, Eid, Diwali or Christmas.
 
Sweets are often seen as the torch bearers of traditions and play a key role in setting the stage for communities, cultures and families to come together. In India, festivals without sweets is unthinkable! And therefore, it assumes paramount importance that the quality of sweetmeats on offer is the best. While quality remains a demand that cannot be compromised, the taste of sugar being used, gains that much more significance. Impurity ora slip in the desalination process of sugar can be detrimental to the quality of the sweet.
 
Specialty chemicals company LANXESS helps ensure that sweetmeats live up to their name. The production of liquid sugar or bright white, crystalline castor sugar during the processing of raw sugar for the confectionery industry is largely thanks to LANXESS. Lewatit® ion exchange resins remove salts from raw sugar solutions that would otherwise spoil the taste of the sugar. However, they also remove the yellowy brown substances from these solutions that give the raw sugar its color and bitter taste, thereby making it as clear as glass. This is followed by a crystallization process that produces the white sugar grains.
 
Used by all leading German sugar producers
 
“Our ion exchange resins are used by all the leading German sugar producers. They make decolorization easier and more cost-effective than with other processes such as activated carbon filters,” says NadjaHermsdorf, technical manager for ion exchange resins in the food industries at the LANXESS Liquid Purification Technologies (LPT) business unit. The advantage is that while with activated carbon the filter substance has to be prepared cost- and labor-intensively at an external site, the ion exchange resins from LANXESS are directly “washed,” i.e. regenerated with a 10 percent cooking salt solution and made usable again, within the plant. This process is also cleaner than working with activated carbon filters.
 
Interplay of the molecules – LANXESS makes sugar sweet and white
 
The way the ion exchange resins work could not be more straightforward. Millimeter-sized and ranging in color between beige and amber, the polymer beads have the ability to bond particular ions from solutions and release others into the solution in their place. In this way, they remove unwanted salts from the raw sugar solution and replace them with hydrogen or hydroxide ions (H + OH = H2O). Basically, they therefore release water. To remove the coloring, the polymer beads absorb the color molecules. The color molecules are deposited on the surface of the polymer beads and are thus removed from the sugar solution.
 
Ion exchange resins in industrial sugar production
 
The color of sugar depends on the quality of the raw material and the techniques used inthe sugar production. The raw solutions obtained from sugar cane is initiallycolorless, but itgradually becomes discolored on exposure to air. Further colorants areformed during subsequent process stages.Sugar cane juice has a pH of about 4.0 to 4.5 which is quite acidic. Calcium hydroxide, also known as Milk of lime or limewater, is added to the cane juice to adjust its pH to 7. The lime helps to prevent sucrose's decay into glucose and fructose. The limed juice is then heated to a temperature above its boiling point. The superheated limed juice is then allowed to flash to its saturation temperature: this process precipitates impurities which get held up in the calcium carbonate crystals. The flashed juice is then transferred to a clarification tank which allows the suspended solids to settle. The supernatant, known as clear juice is drawn off of the clarifier and sent to the  evaporator station, where it is condensed in several stages and then crystallized. It is also possible to decolorize this syrup before crystallization using ion exchange resins. This saves repeated crystallization steps. The highest quality grade, pure white sugar (refined sugar), is produced through sugar solutions that have been solubilized, decolorized via the ion exchange resins and then crystallized.
 
More than 1,000 food industry customers worldwide rely on Lewatit®
 
Over 1,000 food industry customers worldwide rely on Lewatit®. The ion exchange resins play a key role in more than just sugar production. Lewatit® is also used in other sweeteners to remove salt from glucose syrup, for example. Applications include soft drinks, yogurts, bread, beer, gummy bears and even toothpaste. Demand for the ion exchange resins is high, which has led to the business unit increasing production volumes of Lewatit® significantly in the last few years. In September 2014, LANXESS opened a new production line for weak acid cation exchange resins and a cutting-edge filling and packaging plant at its site in Leverkusen.
 
Almost 80years’ experience
 
For almost 80 years, the products from the Lewatit® range have stood for high-quality ion exchange resins, adsorbers and functional polymers for the treatment of liquids. They play a key role in areas such as water treatment in industry, semiconductor production, household use and industrial wastewater and process flow treatment. Lewatit® grades are also used in the preparation of solutions in the beverage industry and in chemical catalysis and pharmaceutical biofermentation.
 
LANXESS is a leading specialty chemicals company with sales of EUR 7.2 billion in 2018. The company currently has about 15,500 employees in 33 countries and is represented at 58 production sites worldwide. The core business of LANXESS is the development, manufacturing and marketing of chemical intermediates, additives, specialty chemicals and plastics. LANXESS is listed in the leading sustainability indices Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI World and Europe) and FTSE4Good.
 

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