Granular activated carbon (GAC) is a commonly used substance for decolorization and impurity removal in sugar processing operations. It can be derived from a variety of organic materials with high levels of naturally occurring carbon, including coal, peat, and/or wood.
For sugar operations, GAC is often subjected to a number of physical and chemical processes in order to maximize its surface area. These processes are designed to create millions of submicroscopic pores on the carbon, thereby increasing its ability to absorb impurities. Activated carbon has a unique ability to attract and bind a variety of compounds not meant for human consumption. Because of this, it is broadly used in a wide range of food and beverage production applications.
GAC refers specifically to particles of activated carbon too big to pass through an 80-mesh sieve. These larger particles can be bound and shaped into evenly sized pellets to create extruded activated carbon (EAC), whose specific size and structure vary depending on the particular process or application that it will be used in.
The highly porous structure of granular activated carbon gives it excellent binding capabilities. The carbon also has the added benefit of reacting with certain compounds to reduce toxicity.
GAC is the one of the most effective substances for the removal of non-sucrose impurities and decolorization – both of which are critical to the production of white sugar. In addition to changing the sugar’s visible appearance, decolorization helps remove unwanted odors and tastes. It is an essential step in creating the type of stable, storable, and high-quality sugar found in mass-produced food and beverage products.
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