Not Just for Industrial Work: GIW Pumps Benefit Agriculture
GIW pumps are used worldwide for a variety of slurry-pumping applications. The stereotypical pump application conjures up visions of mining slurry and hard rocks passing through the pumps. However, GIW pumps are also used for agricultural applications, including the sugar-processing industry. One of the largest by-products of any agricultural process is mud, and sugar cane is no exception.
Sugar refinement process
Sugar refiners grow sugar cane and then process the cane to produce crystalline sugar. When the cane is brought into the mill, it has been cut and loaded from the fields into tractors and dumped into a holding area at the mill site. If the weather has been wet, the loaders pick up dirt, sand, rocks, and grit along with the cane and send it to the mill. This material must be washed off before grinding or removed from the juice once the cane has been ground and squeezed.
GIW pumps play an important role in three parts of the sugar refinement process:
- Transporting the ground sugar cane slurry to settlers and filters
- Transporting the mud filtered from the sugar cane slurry to discharge
- Transporting “boiler glass” and ash from the boilers that heat the clarified cane juice
The “dirty juice” created from the raw sugar cane is laden with sand, mud, and rocks — and is quite abrasive. GIW pumps transport the dirty juice to pressurized heaters, which are high-flow, high-pressure applications. Once the juice is heated, lime is added to control pH, then the juice moves into settlers, and vacuum filters remove the mud. GIW pumps transfer the “dirty limed juice” to the settlers and filters. The mud is removed as a solid filter cake on the vacuum filters, then it is mixed with hot water to enable the GIW pump to transport it to the final discharge pumps.
Once the cane has been chopped, ground, and squeezed multiple times, the leftover cane fiber, called “bagasse,” provides fuel to the multiple boilers that produce power for the mill, steam to run turbines, and heat to cook the juice in the boilers. As the bagasse burns in the boilers, the result is huge amounts of ash. This ash still contains some of the grit, sand, and stones that came in with the cane. Sand in the boilers melts into a solid, rock-like material commonly referred to as boiler glass. The glass also is highly abrasive and must be continually removed.
GIW pumps handle the ash as it is slurried and pumped to join the previously removed mud. The combination of mud and ash is sent off-site. The transportation of this highly abrasive material was, up until now, the toughest problem that a sugar-processing mill faced.
Benefits of GIW pumps to the sugar industry
The sugar-processing cycle begins around mid-September and continues until all the sugar cane has been processed, usually in December or January. Once sugar cane is cut, it begins to leak its fluids, so it must be processed quickly in order to minimize fluid loss. Sugar processing plants run 24-hours-a-day during this time. The reliability of GIW pumps has helped sugar processors keep their plants running and minimize loss during this critical time.
In the past, the abrasive slurries wreaked havoc on the pumps and equipment in the mill and were a constant source of maintenance. According to the customer, he has never had to replace a GIW pump in a sugar-processing plant — not even the first one he installed more than two decades ago. GIW broke the cycle of pump wear and replacement and is now the accepted standard for abrasive slurry pumping in the markets that they serve. More than 80% of the sugar mills in Louisiana use GIW pumps.
In the west, sugar comes from sugar beets. With sugar beets, the most important pumps are those which pump the delicate “cossettes” or sliced beets. GIW’s pumps with slow turning impellers and large sphere passage are specifically designed for the gentle handling of the cossettes. In this application, the pump will operate for years before needing any parts replaced except for bearings, packing and shaft sleeves.
No matter what you are processing, GIW has a solution.