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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 2

I Technology Transported; 1788-1840

II Technology Established; 1840-1940
i Meat Preserving: Heat Processing Introduced
ii Horticultural Products: Heat, Sugar and Solar Drying
iii Refrigeration and the Export of Meat
iv Milling and Baking
v Dairy Products
vi Beverages
vii Sugar: Supplying an Ingredient

III The Coming Of Science

IV From Science To Technology: The Post-war Years

V Products And Processes

VI Conclusion

VII Acknowledgements



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Sugar: Supplying an Ingredient [108] (continued)

Observations in 1886, of the application of chemistry in the German beet sugar industry convinced Knox of the correctness of the initiatives at home and he gave chemists greater responsibility in the control of all manufacturing operations. In the same period, Kottmann worked out a formula for assessing the Pure Obtainable Cane Sugar (POCS) from a load of cane. With an associated Coefficient of Work formula for the mills he was then able to make direct comparisons between them. This work led to improvements on the agricultural side of the industry to provide cane of higher sugar content and in 1899 CSR introduced payment for cane on sugar content. This spread and in 1916 was adopted for the whole Australian industry. It was analogous to the introduction of the payment for milk on the butter fat content, which dates from 1891.

In 1890, E. W. Knox read a paper to the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science (the forerunner of ANZAAS) and in it he detailed the current state of the application of chemistry in CSR's mills and refineries. There was a central laboratory with five or six people and laboratories at all nine mills and three refineries. The analytical work covered everything including the bone char used for decolourizing syrups and all waste products, bagasse used for fuel, ash for fertilizer and condensate used for watering megass for second stage crushing and for steam raising. Molasses was a by-product for which there was little use, but some ammonium sulphate was obtained in the preparation of bone char and the spent bone char itself could be used in the manufacture of superphosphate.

Knox admitted that mill management had at first scorned the introduction of chemists, an attitude by no means confined to his company or his industry, but he added two other advantages to the demonstrated financial benefits of chemical control. One was the professional probity of chemists and the other was the intellectual stimulation deriving from discussions with them of their findings. It was not surprising, then, that he was moving men with chemical training into plant management.

Though CSR was the pacemaker, there seems little doubt that Australian sugar technology remained abreast or even ahead of world trends. Cane 'preparation', e.g., by shredding, was used as early as 1914, and a hammer mill (the Searby shredder) was installed at Tully in the mid-twenties and increased cane throughput by 20 per cent. In 1928, the Bureau of Sugar Experiment stations, which had been established in 1900 mainly to improve agricultural practices in the sugar industry, added a Division of Mill Technology. Contributions have been made to clarification, sugar boiling, pan design and other aspects of mill technology. In 1939, a mains operated pH meter, developed by the BSES to measure pH continuously in the mill liquors was introduced. This was a considerable achievement for the time.

The Queensland (now Australian) Society of Sugar Cane Technologists was established in 1929 and has made a significant contribution to the Australian sugar industry from that time. It is clear from the papers presented at the society's early annual conferences that Australian mills were already quickly adopting technological advances as they became available. Automatic mill speed control had been developed by J. Killer, a legendary Queensland sugar mill engineer, and in the 1930s the CSR pressure feeder was developed. Other important innovations in this period included the 'dirty top' roll to improve the grip on the cane and the Killer system of clarification/maceration which avoids the need for a mud filter. Good milling trials at Kalamia and other mills and conference discussion of the relative merits of 'hot' and 'cold' maceration were further evidence of a technologically innovative industry.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations; Colonial Sugar Refining Company (C.S.R.); Queensland Society of Sugar Cane Technologists

People in Bright Sparcs - Killer, J.; Knox, E. W.; Knox, Edward; Kottmann, Dr G.

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© 1988 Print Edition pages 111 - 112, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher