Carbohydrates are some of the most important components in life for building of organic stuctures and for energy storage and energy transformation. The carbonydrates are mainly built of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.

In nature the biggest volumes of carbohydrates exists as water insoluble components like starch, inulin, cellulose, pectin, gums, chitosan in grain, roots, straw, wood, algae, animal from land and sea. These "native" products are the basis for many industries.

Carbohydrates also exitst as water soluble components like polysaccharides, disaccharides, mono-saccharides, sugar alcohols and others. They are found directly in nature or are the result of conversion of some of the water insoluble carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates can be grouped as below.

Water insoluble carbohydrates

  • Starch - from grain, bulbs and roots
              - Converted to malt and malt extract
              - Converted to maltodextrin, corn syrup, glucose and fructose
  • Inulin - from bulbs, roots, bacterials
              - Converted to smaller oligosaccharides and fructose         
  • Cellulose - from straw and wood
              - Converted to CMC, MCC and glucose
  • Pectin - from pill of citrus, from apple and others
              - Converted to molecules with different sizes
  • Gums - from sap of trees
              - Like Gum-Arabic and poly-isoprene
  • Gums - from algae
              - Like carrageenan, alginates and other natural gums
  • Chitosan - from crabs, scrimps etc.  

Water soluble carbohydrates

  • Disaccharides - from fruit, berries and trees
              - Like sucrose, mannose, maltose
  • Disaccharides - from animals
              - Like lactose, lactulose
  • Monosaccharides - from fruits, berries and trees
              - Like glucose (dextrose), fructose (levulose)
  • Alcohol - from fermented saccharides
              - Like ethanol
  • Sugar-alcohols - from fruits, berries and sea-weeds
              - Like sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol

The amount of carbohydrates for commercial processing is increasing due to several conversion processes with enzymes, bacterias, mould and yeast, and many of them are subject to extraction, purification, concentration and drying.

Starch from corn, grain, potatoes, yams and tapioca qualifies as some of the most important ingredients in the food industry. Inulin and gums are equally important, as these can be transformed into several products with special characteristics.

The type of dryer selected depends on the product properties. GEA Niro has supplied conventional spray dryers, fluidized spray dryer FSD and FILTERMAT™ dryers for a variety of the products mentioned above. The success of the GEA Niro spray dryers is unmistakable, seeing how hundreds of these dryers operate worldwide. GEA Niro has experience in supplying industrial spray dryers for the products referred to.

Glucose is the most important carbohydrate for applying energy to human beings. It is made from starch by hydrolization. If the degreee of hydrolization reaches 92-99 %, a product called total sugar is obtained.

Malts contain a high amount of maltose known from brewing of beer and malt drinks. These malts can be spray dried on various types of dryers, depending on the wanted composition and thermoplasticity. Conventional spray dryers are often used for regular malts, while the FILTERMAT® is more suitable for the thermoplastic products.

Sugar alcohols
Sugar alcohols are low-calorie sweeteners like sorbitol and xylitol and have adapted the spray drying process, because the final product obtain excellent properties to produce tablets, and have great solubility and handling properties. The products are normally extremely sticky and thermoplastic, and require a long process time to crystallise. The FILTERMAT™ drying system is the most successful industrial installation to process this product, which can not be dried on conventional dryers.

Lactose is found only in milk and often referred to as "milk sugar". It is a discarride made up from glucose and gallactose. Pure lactose is produced from whey from cheese production or permeate from ultrafiltration of whey or milk. Lactose is dried in a special lactose dryer.

Inulin is extracted mainly from chicory roots and jerusalem roots. Inulin is a group of polymers made from a single glucose molecule and several fructose molecules. GEA Niro has developed the technologies for spray drying of insulin and has supplied industrial dryers for them. Typically, a Fluidized Spray Dryer FSD is used to produce an agglomerated product.