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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - November 12, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta 6 THE LETHBRIOGE HERALD Tuesday, November 12, 1974 ByRICSWIHART, He PICTURE BUTTE Steam-operated electric turbines, miles of pipe and electrical wires and some of the most modern processing equipment in the world are used at the Canadian Sugar Factories Co. plant here to turn sugar beets into table- ready sweetener. Fred Karren, plant superintendent, told The Herald the plant here operates about 90 days each processing season, about the same time as the larger processing plant in Taber operates. About tons of sugar beets from the Lethbridge Northern Irrigation District, Raymond, Broxburn and the Coaldale pilers and about half the beets from Tempest are moved via rail and truck to the Picture Butte factory for processing. With a peak employment of 170 during the processing season, including 60 permanent staff, about 100-pound bags of granulated sugar is produced in Picture Butte. The workers can turn out about pounds daily. From the total production at Picture Butte, the equivalent of 100-pound bags are shipped to the Raymond plant in bulk for repackaging into smaller bags. Some of the granulated sugar is further refinedjnto icing sugar. This leaves about 40 million pounds of granulated sugar to enter the distribution chain of Canadian Sugar Factories throughout Alberta and parts of Saskatchewan. The Picture Butte plant was built in 1935 and brought into production in 1936. With a consumption of cubic feet of natural gas daily to run steam boilers to generate all electrical needs of the plant and another 1.7 million cubic feet needed daily to provide heat for the pulp drying un- it, the factory is -the largest single user of natural gas in Picture Butte during the 90- day processing period. It also uses 100 tons of lime rock and 80 tons of coke daily in the process. The beets are moved to the factory site and stored in large piles. A giant front-end loader is kept busy moving beets from the pile to a loading hopper outside the plant. Water jets under 125 pounds pressure move the beets in a flume from the hopper inside the plant. The beets are moved through a series of screens and debris removing machines before being raised in a bucket wheel elevator to the washing machine. The beets are tumbled inside the water bath in the washer which resembles a giant washing machine. The beets continue to flow into and out of the washer, moving from the washer via an elevator into a surge tank that ensures a continuous supply of raw beets for the slic- ing machines. Here the beets are readied for the sugar extraction process. Three slicers, which shred the beets to expose more surface area in the extraction process, are capable of handling 112 to 115 tons of beets per hour. The shredded beets are moved via conveyor belt into the sugar diffuser, a long metal machine built on an upward slant from the floor. Water enters the top of the diffuser while the sliced beets enter the bottom. The slic- ed beets are moved upward by a large auger while the water passes against the flow of beets. WASHING BEETS ;