African Products produces starch and a range of related products including glucose.
Three of its four plants produce glucose mainly for the beer and confectionery industries.
Glucose used in these applications must be pure as well as colour-stable, states Braybrooke.
In order to achieve this the glucose syrup is treated to remove ash, protein, organic acids and colour by passing it through columns containing ion- exchange resins.
Separate columns containing cation and anion exchange resins are used to remove ions and colour bodies by a process of exchange of problem ions for others that have no effect on the final product.
The organoleptic properties of taste and odour in the glucose syrup are removed by the use of adsorbent resins in a polishing step.
The company has been supplying ion-exchange resins since 1988 when it was appointed the sole agent in South Africa for Purolite.
Purolite started out as a small producer in 1986, but, as a result of its commitment to the ion- exchange resin business, experienced phenomenal growth and is now one of the largest producers in the world.
During the early days it was not easy for Montan to compete, as a single local producer enjoyed duty and import permit protection.
In spite of this Montan Chemicals first supplied ion-exchange resins to African Products in 1990 but it was only in 1992 when the local competitor closed its plant and duties were removed that Montan was able to establish itself as a significant supplier in the market.
As a result of free competition Braybrooke points out that the rand price African Products now pays for resin is less than it was in 1990.
The company has supplied resins to all four of African Products’ mills and, although Meyerton mill no longer uses resins due to a change in its product mix, the group remains a large user of resin.
Purolite resins were supplied for the new mill at Kliprivier recently and a large replacement order is on its way to Bellville mill at present.
Montan also enjoys a significant share of replacement business at the Germiston mill, states Braybrooke.
Resins are chemically regenerated on a periodic basis in order to remove the contaminants taken up from the glucose syrup and restore the capacity.
Due to a slow build-up of organic material in the matrix of the resin, the regeneration efficiency slowly declines until a point is reached where the resin has to be replaced.
“It is in the interests of African Products that resin life is extended for as long as possible, and a technical service is offered whereby used resins are tested and recommendations made based on the results,” explains Braybrooke.
Products supplied by the company include ion- exchange resins, activated carbon, flocculants and coagulants.
Due to the nature of its products and their applications, the staff at Montan are all technically qualified.
The team boasts backgrounds in chemistry, metallurgy and water technology and has the full backup of a well- equipped laboratory.
This, together with close co-operation with its principals, enables the company to provide good-quality products with full technical support.