Innovation in
Sugar Production Processes

Technology for Improving Sugar Yield
by Simultaneously Increasing Sugar
and Ethanol Production

Background


The inversion process to simultaneously increase sugar and ethanol production and improve yield in the sugar production process is a technology that has been developed by Asahi Group Holdings, Ltd. over many years. Having received permission from Asahi Group Holdings, Ltd. to put it into practice, JMTC aims to commercialize this technology by forming partnerships with businesses in Japan and overseas.

Changes in
the Sugar Industry


With sugar consumption rising due to increased incomes in developing countries, global demand for sugar has been increasing every year. Furthermore, in order to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and reduce the environmental burden, many countries promote the use of bioethanol. One such initiative is the utilization of bioethanol from sugarcane, particularly in Brazil. Despite these changes in the market and demand, there has been no major innovation in the sugar production process since it was established in the 1840s. In some developing countries, factories still use production equipment made almost 100 years ago. Due to the limitations of the current production process, factories can only operate during periods when there is an increase in the sugar content of sugarcane, resulting in serious efficiency problems in factory operation. To solve these problems, we need a technological breakthrough.

Developed Technology


Inversion
production
process

In the conventional sugar production process, sugar is produced by crystallizing the sucrose in sugarcane juice (the raw material) and then fermenting sucrose and reducing sugars (glucose and fructose) in the molasses residue to produce ethanol. However, since the reducing sugars in sugarcane juice inhibit the crystallization of sugar, this restricts improvement of the production yield. With this newly developed inversion production process, the reducing sugars in sugarcane juice are first transformed into ethanol by fermentation. The sucrose in the residual liquid from which the reducing sugars have been removed is then crystallized to produce sugar.

process

Non-sucrose-
assimilating
yeast

In the inversion production process, the reducing sugars are transformed into ethanol using a newly developed non-sucrose-assimilating yeast. Normal yeast transforms both sucrose and reducing sugars into ethanol through the action of a yeast enzyme (invertase). Because non-sucrose-assimilating yeast does not contain invertase, however, the sucrose remains in its original state, and only the reducing sugars are selectively transformed into ethanol. The application of yeast technology also gives cohesiveness to the non-sucrose-assimilating yeast, making it possible to develop a new type of yeast with improved handling properties.

Function of conventional yeast
Function of non-sucrose-assimilating yeast

Awards

The inversion production process has received the Grand Prize at the Global Environment Awards, which honor notable achievements in Japanese industry with the objectives of developing new technologies and products that contribute to the prevention of global warming and the realization of a recycling society, promoting activities and businesses that protect the environment, pursuing 21st-century social systems, and raising awareness of the need to protect the global environment. It also received the Maurice Patarau Award of the International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists in 2016.


Benefits of the New Technology

1

Improvement of
yield in sugar
production
process

Since it prevents the inhibition of crystallization resulting from reducing sugars, the inversion production process improves the yield in the sugar production process. The extent of yield improvement varies according to the ratio of the reducing sugars; the higher the reducing sugar ratio, the greater the rate of yield improvement.

2

Possibility of
application
to
existing
equipment

The inversion process can be applied to sugar production equipment already in use without requiring any changes via installations of additional equipment. It can therefore be introduced with existing equipment, not only with the construction of new plants.

3

Expansion of raw
materials used and
extension of factory
operation time

In the conventional sugar production process, in order to prevent worsening of the yield through the impact of the reducing sugars, factories operate only when sugar content of sugarcane is particularly high. Accordingly, yield is greatly affected by the raw materials, and the operating time at the factory is extremely restricted. As the inversion production process crystallizes the sugar after removing the inhibiting factor of the reducing sugars, on the other hand, it enables to use sugarcanes with wider range of sugar content as raw materials and extend the annual operating time of the factory.

4

Maximization of
effectiveness
via combination
with high-biomass
sugarcane

Research has long been conducted on methods of enhancing the sugar content of sugarcane. One new concept is the development of high-biomass sugarcane with a high fiber content, an approach that more effectively utilizes the whole crop, including the fibers it contains. However, high-biomass types of sugarcane cannot be used in the conventional sugar production process because the approach cannot process large amounts of reducing sugars and requires a high sugar content ratio. Since the impact of reducing sugars can be eliminated in the inversion production process, effectiveness can be maximized by using it in combination with high-biomass sugarcane.

Sucrose content of sugarcane juice(%)

Corporate Profile


Company
name
Japan Material Technologies Corporation
Management
Koyu Urata (Founder & CEO)
Established
Date
August 11, 2015
Business
1. Incubation of chemical and material innovation
2. Consulting services for business development
Address
AIOS GINZA, 8-17-5 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061
Group
companies
JMTC Enzyme Corporation
JMTC Capital G.K.

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