The most modern sugar factory in Europe
The CoBT aims to build and operate the most modern sugar factory in Europe in the heart of the best beet growing region in Europe. Scheduled to start in September 2023, the factory will have a processing capacity of 14,000 t of beet per day.
An ideal geographic location
The CoBT sugar factory will be located on the Seneffe site, 40 km south of Brussels, in the centre of its beet supply area, and close to many sugar users as well. It will have substantial logistical facilities, such as motorway and waterway access just one kilometre away, direct access to an industrial-grade natural gas pipeline on its property, a nearby railway line and a multimodal logistics platform for container transhipment (truck-train-barge) 10 km away.
Quality local supply
The 1,400 cooperative beet growers have already undertaken to supply their cooperative with 1,625,000 t of beet annually, corresponding to 116 days of the sugar marketing year. 45 km away on average from the future sugar factory, the farms of these 1,400 suppliers are located in the best beet growing region in Europe in terms of quality (high and relatively constant yields) and quantity (high sugar extractability).
An efficient extraction process
The sugar is extracted from the beet by osmosis and then crystallized. The process is physical and does not require any chemical processing. The Seneffe sugar factory will be equipped with the most efficient tried and tested technologies in a fully integrated process for unprecedented optimization of energy consumption (more details here). In addition to sugar, all “by-products” are recovered, so the equation is virtually “zero waste”.
The process, design, construction and start-up of the sugar factory are the subject of a close partnership with the DSEC engineering company (more details here).
A cleaner sugar factory
While some sugar factories use coal, coke and anthracite, the Seneffe sugar factory will be powered by natural gas and biogas produced on site from beet washing waste.
The amount of energy consumed per tonne of sugar produced will be 45% lower than in the most efficient competing sugar factories.
In addition, beet pulp will be dried at very low cost, thanks to the recovery of calories “lost” in the sugar extraction process.
Large storage capacity
CoBT will have a large storage capacity for sugar and dry pulp, which will enable it to operate its production on a run-of-river basis, thereby avoiding the need for expensive external storage capacity.
Necessary authorizations granted
Up to 2017, the European sugar production was governed by quotas (=a fixed quantity at a fixed price). Since then, the European sugar market has been liberalized, so CoBT does not need authorization to produce sugar.
Furthermore, the single permit required for the construction and operation of the Seneffe sugar factory has been fully in effect since May 2019.
As of October 2023, CoBT will offer its customers sugar, molasses, beet pulp and sugar skimmings.
Sucrose is a carbohydrate composed of glucose and fructose commonly known as sugar. It is naturally synthesized by sugar beet by photosynthesis, i.e. by the fixation of atmospheric carbon (estimated at 40 t of CO2 per hectare per year).
CoBT expects a production of sugar of the highest quality (n°1 and n°2) of 260,000 t/year from the 2023 production year onwards. This quantity will represent approximately 1.4% of European production, and should mainly be sold within a radius of 300 km around Seneffe. The sugar will be delivered in bulk, in big bags or in sacks.
Molasses is the part of the sweet juice extracted from the beet that is not crystallized. This syrup contains about 50% sucrose, and is widely used in food (human and animal) and fermentation.
The pulp is the flesh of the beet which is discharged as sugar. CoBT will package it in dry form (pellets with a minimum of 89% dry matter) and in over-pressed form (bulk with about 24% dry matter). The dry pulp will be steam (not flame) dried which will give it a very high quality.
Sugar skimmings consist of lime residues from the purification of sugar juices. They are used as lime fertilizer to balance the acidity of the soils.
CoBT cooperates with numerous professional partners specialized in all aspects of its development. Some of the first CoBT partners are listed here.
Consulting firm in strategy, financing and governance, which has advised and guided CoBT on these various issues from the outset of the project.
Industrial integrator in agri-foodstuffs, which advises and guides CoBT as a developer and integrator of the Seneffe sugar factory.
Professional association representing Walloon beet growers which carried the project through its initial development.
A consultancy firm specialized in particular in the environmental and spatial planning sector, which advises and guides CoBT in procedures relating to the single permit for the construction and operation of the Seneffe sugar refinery.