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Plant Familiarization


During the first two weeks of my graduate leanership program (01 May 2017 to 12 May 2017), l
started with plant familiarization in all sections i.e. milling, steam generation, distillery and
dispatch/loading bay. Besides visual identification of the process, l also managed to get time to go
through some theory notes which describes in detail the company process description and all the
unit operations involved i.e distillation, evaporation, crushing and screening. Appreciation of
process parameters, procedures, work instructions and safety in industrial set-ups was done with
the help of my supervisor and project manager.


 Mostly to familiarize with all sections at Chisumbanje Ethanol plant (factory).

 To familiarize with all Green Fuel employees in the plant including all departmental

Company background

Green Fuel is one of the first and largest companies in Africa offering a home-grown solution to
energy by using the latest technology in sugarcane agriculture and ethanol production to produce
a world class product (ethanol). Green Fuel produces anhydrous ethanol with less than 0.04%
water content, generating the best performing fuel around. The ethanol product from Green Fuel
is safe to use, competitively priced, clean and accessible, as well as beneficial to the environment.

Overall Process Description

Basically the process overview of Green Fuel Ethanol Plant is categorized into ten sections which
includes: (i) milling section

(ii) boiler/water treatment

(iii) Evaporation

(iv) Fermentation
(v) Distillation

(vi) Storage- tank farm

(vii) Laboratory

(viii) dispatch/loading bay

(ix) Factory dam/spray ponds

(x) Weighing bridge

The production of ethanol starts by cane being harvested by Chopper-Harvesters, and is delivered
in billeted form (15cm- 20cm). The cane is delivered to the mill by trucks that are self-tipping and
the average payload for cane trucks is 22 tons. The billeted cane is generally uniform which makes
cane preparation easier. The cane truck goes through a weighbridge for weighing and is offloaded
on the feeder table.

Feeder Table

The trucks discharge billeted cane to the feeder table. The feeder table transport cane from its base
to the bull nose by means of 18 chains connected with slats being driven by a 45kw motor. The
feeder table is controlled by an operator up to a maximum speed of 12m/min feeding cane on the
cane carrier. The cane will be fed at a rate to keep a constant bed of cane on the cane carrier.

An overview of the plant operations is summarized below with the help of a process flow diagram:
Cane Preparation
The cane has to be prepared prior to milling to ensure maximum extraction of the sugars from the
cane. The objective of the cane preparation is to open the cells of the cane to such an extent that
the sugars and moisture can be extracted. Cane Preparation equipment comprises of Feeder table,
cane carrier, primary knives, feeder drum, the shredder and kickers.

Cane Carrier
The cane carrier (slat conveyor) conveys cane from the feeder table to primary knives and shredder
by means of 2 chains connected with slats being driven by a 45KW motor. The cane carrier is also
responsible for controlling the crush rate by varying its speed.

Primary Knives

The billeted cane is further cut down by primary knives. The cane knife comprise of 30 knives
new on a rotor being driven by a 500Hp refurbished Dedini turbine.


The cane is further prepared by a shredder to open up cane cells. The shredder open the cane cells
by means of 60 hammers each weighing 35kg on a rotor being driven by a 1MW motor. The target
preparation Index is 85%.

The shredded cane is then transported to the milling section by means of 1.8m wide belt (cane belt)
or SC1.


The Milling tandem consists of four mills rated at 4500 cane per day. The shredded cane from the
cane preparation section is fed to mill number 1 and the fibre products are then fed to the following
mill and so on. The shredded cane is squeezed between the rollers at a very high compression, the
juice (sugars and moisture) is extracted and the bagasse is fed to the next consecutive mill. Hot
imbibition water at 85°C is added in a counter current manner, this is essentially to try and extract
the sugars by dissolution. The clean imbibition water is pumped into the fourth mill, which has the
lowest concentration of sugar where once extracted and collected is pumped to mill number three
and so on. The juice (now called mixed juice) is screened prior to it going to the distillery. The
juice is gravity fed to the mixed juice tank in the distillery. The bagasse (moisture 52%, pol 2.5%)
from the fourth mill is sent to the boiler as boiler fuel.


The boiler is used to generate superheated steam at 45 bars and 450 degrees Celcius to drive the
turbine alternator which produces electricity and exhaust steam at 1.8 bars 230 degrees Celcius for
further heating processes at the distillery. The high pressure steam from the boiler is also let down
to 22bars pressure 300 degrees temperature to drive the mill turbines.

Turbo Alternator (TA)

The Turbine alternator is a 22.5MVA machine generating 18.5MW at 0.8 power factor with a
steam admission flow of 120tph at 43 bars 445 degrees Celsius. Currently the TA is being operated
at 8.5MW. The 5MW are used for plant and estate requirements and the excess 3.5MW being
exported to the national grid.


The primary functions of the evaporator is to increase the concentration of the mixed juice from
approximately 13°brix to 20-22°brix by boiling off excess water, this is collected as utility steam
( V1) for further use in the in distillation section. The secondary functions of the syrup evaporator
are to condense pure turbine steam supplied from the turbine alternator, so that the condensate can
be sent back to the boiler and to sterilise the sugar solution and prevent premature growth of micro-
organisms which might spoil the fermentation batch.

Yeast Propagation

The function of the yeast propagation (pre-fermentation) section is to grow yeast so that it may be
used in the fermentation section to produce ethanol.


Once the yeast propagation cycle has been completed, the Yeast Propagation Tank will be full of
yeast culture which must be transferred to 1860m3 fermenters. Most of the mash is fed to the
fermenters along with a dose of yeast. The yeast ferments the sugars in the mash producing ethanol
and carbon dioxide, along with small amounts of other intermediary products. The fermentation
cycle takes 48hrs to complete yielding beer with approximately 10% alc. After fermentation the
beer is transferred to the beer well tank (500m3).


The distillery consist of two sections the hydrous and the anhydrous alcohol distillation section.
Hydrous section (lA)

The beer is fed to the hydrous section using an approximated flow rate of 110m3/hr- 150m3/hr to
the beer well. The beer is fed into the stripper column which removes the solids and water from
the solution. This by-product is called Vinasse generated at 130m3/h which is sent away as effluent.
From the stripper the intermediary solution, which is higher in alcohol (55%) than the beer and
without yeast and other solids, is sent to the rectifying column. The rectifying column removes
most of the water from the ethanol. Ethanol forms an azeotrope when with approximately 4 %
water, which means the mixture of 4% water and 96% ethanol has a lower boiling point than either
of the pure products. This in turn means that it is not possible to reach anhydrous ethanol by
standard distillation methods. This hydrous product is then sent to a recycle tank (500m3) at the
tank farm. This tank is a buffer between the hydrous and anhydrous distillation sections.

Anhydrous Section

The hydrous alcohol is pumped to the anhydrous section where cyclohexane is added to the
hydrous alcohol. The ternary mixture of water and cyclohexane has a boiling point of
approximately 62 degrees Celsius, which is lower than the boiling point of the anhydrous ethanol.
This means that the anhydrous or absolute ethanol product comes out from the bottom of the
anhydrous column and is pumped to the storage tanks. The ternary mixture is then separated and
sent to the recovery column to remove the water from the cyclohexane and recycle the cyclohexane
back to the anhydrous column. The anhydrous ethanol production capacity of the plant is

Tank Farm

The tank farm consists of 8 tanks. 3 day receiver tanks(500m3/hr) with product transfer
pump(80m3/hr), recycle product tank (capacity 500m3). Three 3 are used for anhydrous alcohol
storage, one is used as the hydrous recycle tank. The smaller tanks are used for cyclohexane storage
(35m3) and fusel oils (35m3) which are by-products of the fermentation and are not separated from
the ethanol in current operations.

Loading and Dispatch

The anhydrous ethanol is pumped at 80m3hr (approx.) from the day receiver tanks to the loading
bay where it is denatured with petrol and loaded into tankers. There is a petrol storage tank of 60m3
capacity. The quality of the ethanol is checked, the volumes and quality are recorded and the tanker
is dispatched.

Fire System

There is a 10bar high pressure water fire ring supplying the loading bay, distillery, boiler and the
mill section. Each of the four product receiver tanks have an Angus fire arrester installed.




 To understand all the milling processes and operations.

Overview of the milling section

Cane preparation

Process description

The sugarcane is harvested by Case chopper-harvesters, and is delivered by trucks to the factory
in billeted form (i.e. pre-cut). The cane truck goes through a weighbridge for weighing and is
offloaded on the feeder table. The cane trucks have an average payload of 21 tons.

The cane has to be prepared prior to milling to ensure maximum extraction of the sugars from the
cane. The objective of the cane preparation is to open the cells of the cane to such an extent that
the sugars and moisture can be extracted. Cane Preparation equipment comprises of Feeder table,
cane carrier, primary knives and the shredder.

Equipment description

i) Feeder table
The feeder tables are chain conveyor(s) and are used to feed the cane carrier. The feeder
table is placed at right angle with the cane carrier and is inclined at 15oC whilst it is
10m wide, 11.5m long. The trucks discharge billeted cane to the feeder table. The
feeder table transport cane from its base to the bull nose by means of 18 chains
connected with slats being driven by a 45kw motor. The feeder table is controlled by
an operator up to a maximum speed of 12m/min feeding cane on the cane carrier. The
cane will be fed at a rate to keep a constant bed of cane on the cane carrier.
ii) The cane carrier

The cane carrier is the main conveyor that will feed the cane to the shredder. This conveyor is
fitted with a variable speed drive. The operator in the control room defines the cane throughput
(set point value on belt weighed SC1}) and the cane carrier speed will increase if the measured
value on cane belt drops below the set-point value.

The speed of the cane carrier should always be synchronized with the radial speed of the feeder
drum. If the cane carrier trips the feeder drum trips and both the cane carrier and the feeder drum
stops. The cane carrier tail shaft is fitted with a detector to trip the cane carrier drive if zero speed
is detected while the cane carrier is running. This can be used to identify a broken chain for

iii) The feeder drum

The feeder drum is used to press the cane mat prior to entry of the cane into the shredder and force
the canes to enter into the shredder. The speed of the feeder drum is continuously synchronized
with the cane carrier speed. Zero speed detector will be used to trip the motor (detect a broken
gearbox or broken shaft).

iv) The cane shredder

The purpose of this equipment is to prepare / shred the cane prior to milling. The finer the shredded
cane, the easier is the juice extraction.

The cane shredder consists of a rotor fitted with 60 hammers. The shredder is driven by a direct
coupled 1MW 6 poles motor started with a rotoric liquid starter. Once every 2 weeks, the cane
preparation plant is started to enable replacement of the shredder hammer.

The cane shredder will not be started until authorization is received from the shredder bearing –
lubrication system. This shredder bearing lubrication system is controlled by its own PLC. To get
the authorization, the operator has to start the shredder bearing – lubrication system. This system
will continuously monitor the oil temperature and the vibration on left and right bearings. Oil is
continuously cooled down through a heat exchange
If the shredder bearing lubrication system trips or stops, the shredder trips. Once the oil cooling
line has been established, the shredder may be started. The shredder will always be started from
the field. It shall not be possible to start from the control room. The shredder can be stopped
from the control room or with the emergency stops located on the field. During short stoppage, the
shredded cane belt conveyor will be stopped, as well as the cane carrier and the feeder drum. The
shredder shall not be stopped during short stoppages it will be an operator decision to stop the

The current absorbed by the shredder will always be monitored, if the current exceed a set-point
value, the cane carrier is stopped immediately

v) The shredded cane belt conveyor (SC1)

The shredded cane belt conveyor is used to transport the shredded cane from the cane shredder
hood to the first Donnelly chute. This belt conveyor is fitted with safeguards, if the pull chord is
pulled, the shredded belt conveyor will trip.

vi) The cane magnet

This is used to remove tramp iron pieces that would enter the process unexpectedly.

vii) The belt weigher

The belt weigher will be used to measure the cane throughput entering into the milling unit. It’s
also use to regulate the cane throughput. The cane throughput depends on the instant value of the
belt weigher and on the shredded cane belt conveyor speed

Main Control Loop

Cane carrier speed – control loop

The purpose of this control loop is to feed the milling process to the steady rate set value entered
by the operator in the system. If the measured shredded cane throughput measured on is below the
set point value, the cane carrier speed is increased. Since the feeder drum speed is synchronized
with the cane carrier speed, the feeder drum speed is increased by the same rate.

Juice Extraction Plant

Process description

The purpose of the juice extraction plant (or milling plant) is as follows:
1) To extract as much sugar as possible from the cane.

2) To produce bagasse at 52% moisture to be used as fuel in the boilers.

The shredded cane coming from the cane preparation plant will enter in the juice extraction plant
through the Donnelly chute of the first Mill. The milling consists of four mills. The shredded cane
will enter the first Mill and will be transported towards the second Mill chute through the first inter
carrier. At the outlet of the second Mill the cane is transported via the second inter carrier towards
the third Mill chute. At the outlet of the third Mill the cane is transported via the third inter carrier
towards the fourth Mill chute. The fourth Mill will discharge the cane on the belt conveyor
(controlled by the Power plant). One of the conditions to be met prior to starting the Milling plant
is to receive the green light from the Power plant to confirm that the belt conveyor is running
(signal to be exchanged with Power plant PLC).

Between the third and fourth Mill, Imbibition water is added to the cane. This imbibition water
and the cane will be squeezed in the fourth Mill and a first low brix juice will be collected in
maceration tank 2. This low brix juice will be pumped to the second inter carrier located between
second and third Mill. This low brix juice and the cane leaving the second Mill will be squeezed
in the third Mill and a middle brix juice is collected at the outlet of the third Mill. This middle brix
juice is collected in maceration tank 1 and pumped towards the first inter carrier (located between
first and second Mill). This juice and the bagasse leaving the first Mill will be squeezed in the
second Mill and a higher brix juice is collected in unscreened juice tank. The first juice collected
at the outlet of the first Mill is collected in the same tank. This principle is called counter current

The high brix juice entering into the unscreened juice tank is pumped towards the coarse rotary
juice screen. The coarse screened juice is collected into screened juice tank and further pumped to
the fine rotary screen to improve the screening efficiency. From the fine rotary screen the juice is
discharged to the mixed juice tank by the concept of gravity.

The residual solids leaving the two rotary juice screens is a mixture of juice and bagasse and this
product will be discharged on inter carrier number one for feeding the second meal.

Basic Design & Predicted Performance Parameters

Milling Performance Indicators

 Crushing Capacity : - 226 TCH of cane

 Cane preparation : - Shredding
 Tonnes fiber/hour : - > 26.5
 Extraction : - 90
 Imbibition %Fiber: - 150- 200
 Preparatory Index : - 89 to 91
 Bagasse Moisture : - 52 %
 Pol % Bagasse : - 1.5
 Juice Extraction : - Milling (4 mills)
 Mill Drive : - Steam turbine
Key responsibilities

 Monitoring and operating milling plant sections namely the feeder table, cane carrier,
shredder, screening and milling section.
 Laboratory work - taking and preparing samples for analyzing moisture, brix,
Pol and sucrose
- Sample results interpretation and graphical representation
- Calculating the preparation index and extraction efficiency
- Understanding lab equipments
- Performing special samples during plant trials
- Daily inspection of the laboratory equipments

 Plant daily downtime updates

 Production and performance shift by shift updates as well as data capturing through excel
 Daily plant inputs and production board updates
 Filling and using risk assessment and permit to work
 Good housekeeping practice which includes mill sanitization (use of caustic, HTH
chlorine, high pressure water cleaning on screens)
 Familiarize with shift handover during the shift schedule
 Safety compliance
 Control room operation - monitoring process flows and performances in all
in all milling plant sections and equipments to
maintain and correct where needed to achieve
efficient plant production results daily
- Record parameters like fiber%, tonnes cane crushed,

Tonnes cane crushed per hour

 Office work - creating spreadsheets in excel for plant performance, production and
sample results interpretation
- sending production reports through the internet outlook

- doing shift work routine

 Auditing reagents MSDS (Material Safety data Sheets)


 I have gained experience and confidence in milling processes and operations.

 Learned effective stock organizing and control ensured no out of stocks.
 Developed problem solving skills and l have gained confidence in the engineering field.
 Developed problem solving skills and l have also gained confidence in the engineering
 Learned the importance of milling safety and safety measures
 Learned to analyze different samples from the laboratory which includes bagasse sample,
mixed juice sampler brix and pH, cane quality analysis
 Learned how to fill and use risk assessment, permit to work and gate passes
 Learned to create, update calculate, read and graphical representation of data using spread
sheets and graphs.
 Learned how the different external plant equipment (hp machines) operate and their uses
 Developed skills on how to audit and inspect plant equipment like sensing mill bearings
 Gained experience on how to take, prepare and do result analysis and using different
laboratory equipments
 Improved in doing office work

Projects Covered

Topic: Micro- organism control in cane sugar mills

Name of chemical used: Busan 1021

Busan 1021 is a broad- spectrum microbicide that is effective for the control of the bacteria and
fungi as well as troublesome slime and bad odours originating during the processing of cane sugar

The application of Busan 1021 as recommended reduces sucrose losses caused by enzymatic
inversion, provides control of troublesome bacteria eg. Leuconostoc mesenteroides and Bacillus
stearothermophilus, and helps to keep mill systems free of microbiological slime and odours. The
use of Busan 1021can improve commercial sugar recovery, clarification and pan boiling, and
reduce man-hours required for cleaning mill systems.

Research Methodology

Firstly Busan 1021 was fed into the system through the imbibition line by use of chemical-
metering pump but unfortunately our dosage point was not that successful. This was because Busan
1021 should not be added to the maceration water as the high temperature reduce effectiveness of
the product. Busan 1021 is more effective when added to juice having a pH value below 5.5. Higher
juice temperatures (up to about 65oC) will also increase its effectiveness.

The dosage point was further moved to the maceration pump no.2 discharge line and by so doing
we managed to improve the quality of our results and this was shown by the pH results from the
mixed juice tank and mixed juice sampler. The average daily pH results that we got from the
laboratory were ranging between 5.3 and 5.5 which shows the absence of bacteria from the juice.
Product Features, Advantages and Benefits

 Reduces sugar losses by enzymatic inversion through bacterial activity.

 Control of troublesome bacteria
 Improved house keeping
 Reduced microbiological slime and odours
 Effective against dextran forming bacteria
 Improved sucrose recovery
 Improve clarification
 Improve pan boiling
 Reduced man hours of cleaning

Good housekeeping, including periodic cleaning at least once per 8 hour shift, is also important
for the most efficient control of microorganisms. Regular hosing of mills, bagacillo conveyors and
screens with hot water or steams is recommended. However it is not necessary to stop the tandem
for this hosing. The regular use of Busan 1021 will result in easier and quicker milling cleaning.

Note: do not exceed a dosage of 7.5ppm

Project Proposal

Topic: Liquid- Liquid Heater Design



Usually imbibition water is hot condensate from the distillery, often contaminated with sugar and
not suitable for boiler feed water. This hot condensate is too hot for imbibition duty, for two

 hot imbibition releases waxes from the canes causing the mills to slip

 during the winter months hot imbibition can cause clouds of mist in the mill house which
reduces visibility (a safety hazard)
This hot condensate must be cooled before it can be used as imbibition. The obvious product to
cool it against is the mixed juice from the mills. Hence a liquid- liquid heater

1. The Liquid-Liquid juice heater design is based on the well-established technology

described in Rein, 2007, p. 216

2. It is a modular design which makes for very simple field erection. Very little, if any, site
welding is required.

3. The condensate and juice will flow counter-current to each other for good heat transfer.

4. Each module will consists of a number of passes of standard stainless steel tubes in a
standard nominal bore pipe, flanged at each end, with standard IS/BS/DIN/ISO/ANSI/GB
flanges (according to the Client's preference).

Input parameters

Cane rate - 200t/h

Fiber% Cane - 15

Brix% Cane - 14

Imb% Fiber - 200

Moisture% Bagasse - 52
Brix% Bagasse - 2

Water temp in - 90oC

Water temp out - 60oC

Juice temp in - 35oC

Juice purity - 85

Tube len - 3.8

OHTC - 0.4kw/m2K

Basic Data

Juice Flow - 194.8t/h LMTD - 34.3°C

Imbibition Flow - 60.0t/h Tube Length - 3.8m

Juice Inlet Temp - 35.0°C Heat Flux - 2096.7kW

Juice Outlet Temp - 44.3°C Heating Surface - 152.7m

Imb Inlet Temp - 90.0°C

Design Options

The following table gives a number of options that should provide an acceptable design of
liquid- liquid heater
Tube Dia Tubes per Pass Passes Flow Velocity

35 31 13 2.1
35 37 11 1.8
42 19 17 2.3
67 7 29 2.4
76 7 25 1.9