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Sugar beet

Sugar beet is a plant that contains a very high concentration of sucrose, and is grown commercially for sugar. Sugar beets are grown in North America, Europe and some parts of South America. Beet sugar accounts for 30% of the world's sugar production.

Two byproducts of the sugar processing are beet pulp, which is used for animal food, and beet molasses, which is used in alcohol production or in animal feed.

The beets are harvested in the autumn, washed carefully, peeled and chipped, and then placed in a machine called a diffuser to extract their sugar content. The diffuser is a large horizontal or vertical tank in which the beets slices slowly work their way from one end to the other while the water is agitated in the opposite direction. This is called a counter-current flow[?], and it extracts more sugar from the chips than if they were merely sitting in a hot water bath. Once the beet chips have passed through the diffuser they still contain sugary liquid, so they are pressed in a screw press[?] to extract the last juices. The remaining beet pulp is turned into animal feed, and the beet juice is further processed.

The next stage in the processing is carbonation. The sugar juice contains many impurities that must be removed before it can be dehydrated, so small clusters of chalk are grown in the liquid. The chalk extracts the impurities from the mix, leaving a pure, if weak, sugar solution. This sugar solution is then concentrated in a multi-stage evaporating machine.

Finally, the syrup[?] is boiled in large vats to concentrate the solution and create sugar crystals. These crystals are removed from the liquid in a centrifuge and dried out using hot air.

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