As a result of a technology developed and patented by researchers from Tecnológico de Monterrey, the first cane honey production plant was opened in the Mexican state of Campeche. Cane honey is a fructose syrup that uses sugar cane as raw material and its production is used in soft drinks, food and medicines.
This innovative technology, which was licensed by Del Lago Investments and Agroindustrias Kankab, involves a process that produces high fructose syrup with cane juice, using “immobilized invertase”, an enzyme that digests carbohydrates and divides sucrose into two components, glucose and fructose.
“The innovation of this technology lies precisely in transforming sugarcane juice into an inverted syrup or an equimolar mixture made of fructose and glucose. This resulting syrup was the first step in developing a low-cost product that can be used to sweeten soft drinks”, explained co-inventor Dr. Sergio Serna, a researcher at Tecnológico de Monterrey’s Escuela de Ingeniería y Ciencias.
Dr. Serna mentioned that this syrup has similar properties to high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), with the advantage that it is produced with sugarcane, a product of which Mexico is considered the seventh producer worldwide.
Greater Performance and Higher Production
Currently, 60% of the sugar production in Mexico is used by the soft drink industry, hence, an insufficient amount is left available to meet other market demands. Therefore, it is important to create new forms of production that can reduce the importation of corn syrup from the United States.
“Sugar industry is very relevant for our country. It creates a good amount of jobs, especially farm related. This state-of-the-art technology will help improve productivity while lowering harmful industrial effluents and providing a new product to the soft drink industries that use more than half of the national sugar production. What’s more, it will have a positive social impact by creating new sources of employment while giving a competitive advantage to the Mexican industry that has been lagging behind”, stated Dr. Serna.
The pilot plant called La Fe has single operations that enable the process to scale, obtaining a better output of syrup compared to crystallized sugar at a lower cost, especially in terms of energy use.
“It is estimated that the fructose syrup plant, which is located on a sugarcane plantation, can produce 2 tons of syrup per day”, declared Vanessa Aguilar, Marketing Specialist from Tecnológico de Monterrey.
She also said that sugar cane syrup reduces the costs by dilution of crystallized sugar, and its conversion efficiency of sucrose hovers 95%.
Also, Mrs. Aguilar stated that this is Tec de Monterrey’s project with more patents granted, not only in Mexico, but also in Cuba, the United States, Australia, China, Brazil, South Africa, India, Pakistan and Thailand.
Knowledge Based Economy
For Neil Hernández, Associate Vice Chancellor of Research from Tecnológico de Monterrey, this product supports the university strategy called Research that Transforms Lives, promoting economic and social development through scientific research.
“Knowledge must be linked to the private sector in order to guide Mexico to a knowledge-based economy, and thus create economic and social benefits”.
“This pilot plant opening represents an important achievement for Tec de Monterrey, because many people got involved in the project: researchers, the Oficina de Transferencia de Tecnología, the government and the company itself. We must redouble our efforts to achieve more of this kind of successful examples, it is through them that we can transform the country’s culture into a knowledge-oriented economy”, concluded Dr. Hernández.