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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Interior of The Char House

I found these photos in the Seitz-Plokuda archive. (My thanks to that family.) I think the first photo shows Frank Seitz on an upper floor of the Char House feeding melted sugar into the filter column, which will remove the impurities in the liquid raw sugar. I've visited the Char House several times recently, and I'm pretty sure that's what he's doing.

In the old days, the column would contain bone char. (I don't have a date for these photos.) In later years the column contained diatomaceous earth. Regardless, the liquid sugar would flow down the tall column and the char/earth would remove the impurites.

The filter process relied on gravity drawing the liquid sugar through the filter. I've read somewhere that gravity-flow filtering was obsolete when the Char House was competed in 1925. Refining technology had incorporated infusion techniques by then, which forced the liquid down the column and (I assume) sped up the process. Maybe Leon Anhaiser, or someone else can help me out here.

I think the second photo was taken on the 1st (or a lower) floor of the Char House. Those look like pumps, so maybe they forced the liquid sugar to the upper floors where Mr. Seitz was shown feeding it into the top of the filter column?

(Update) I got this note from Leon Anhaiser explaining the 1st photo: "The picture on the top of the Char filter is a mixer filling device used to wet the bone char with sugar liquor as the filter is being filled with bone char. The char had to be wet before it entered the char filter to avoid dry spots and allow even proper flow. Filter aid was never put in a char filter since it would stop the flow of sugar liquor. Leon"

(Update) I got this note from Leon Anhaiser explaining the 2nd photo: "The second picture is of the granulators. This is where the sugar is tumbled dried as wet sugar entered one end and came out the other end dried. Steam heated air was forced through the drier and evaporated the water from the tumbling sugar crystals. The picture you see is of the sugar feed end. Notice the steam gauge which controlled the heating of the air. Leon"