Consequently, after the last crushing the mixture retained by the residual megass was not juice, as was the case when crushing was employed without maceration, but juice mixed with water; and it was found that the loss in juice was reduced by one-half.
These attachments, first invented by Jeremiah Howard, and described in the United States Patent Journal in 1858, are simply hydraulic rams fitted into the side or top caps of the mill, and pressing against the side or top brasses in such a manner as to allow the side or top roll to move away from the other rolls, while an accumulator, weighted to any desired extent, keeps a constant pressure on each of the rams. An objection to the top cap arrangement is, that if the volume or feed is large enough to lift the top roll from the cane roll, it will simultaneously lift it from the megass roll, so that the megass will not be as well pressed as it ought to be;' and an objection to the side cap arrangement on the megass roll as well as to the top cap arrangement is, that in case more canes are fed in at one end of the rolls than at the other, the roll will be pushed out farther at one end than at the other; and though it may thus avoid a breakdown of the rolls, it is apt, in so doing, to break the ends off the teeth of the crown wheels by putting them out of line with one another.
With the latter system practically as much sugar is obtained from the canes as by diffusion, and the resulting megass furnishes, in a well-appointed factory, sufficient fuel for the crop. With diffusion, however, in addition to the strict scientific control necessary to secure the benefits of the process, fuel - that is, coal or wood - has to be provided for the working off of the crop, since the spent chips or slices from the diffusers are useless for this purpose; although it is true that in some plantations the spent chips have to a certain extent been utilized as fuel by mixing them with a portion of the molasses, which otherwise would have been sold or converted into rum.
It is unquestionably better and easier to evaporate in vacuo than in an open pan, and with a better system of firing, a more liberal provision of steam generators, and multiple-effect evaporators of improved construction, a far larger yield of sugar is obtained from the juice than was possible of attainment in those days, and the megass often suffices as fuel for the crop.
A ton, and where steam is raised by coal, as in a beetroot factory, it might pay to adopt a quintuple-effect apparatus, but on a cane-sugar estate, where the steam necessary for the evaporator is raised by burning the megass as fuel, and is first used in the engines workifig the mills, the exhaust alone passing to the evaporator, there would be very little, if any, advantage in employing a quadruple effect instead of a triple effect, and practically none at all in having a quintuple-effect apparatus, for the interest and sinking fund on the extra cost would more than counterbalance the saving in fuel.
In the best days of the so-called Jamaica Trains in Demerara, three-quarters of a ton of coal in addition to the megass was burned per ton of sugar made, and with this for many years planters were content, because they pointed to the fact that in the central factories, then working in Martinique and Guadeloupe, with charcoal filters and triple-effect evaporation, 750 kilos of coal in addition to the megass were consumed to make woo kilos of sugar.
Hence in the latest designs for large factories it has been proposed that as much normal juice as can be extracted by double crushing only shall be treated by itself, and that the megass shall then be soused with twice as much water as there is juice remaining in it; after which, on being subjected to a third crushing, it will yield a degraded juice, which would also be treated by itself.
In Mexico filters filled with dry powdered megass have been found very efficient for removing the large quantity of impurities contained in the juice expressed from the very vigorous but rank canes grown in that wonderfully fertile country, but unless constant care is taken in managing them, and in changing them at the proper time, there is great risk of inversion taking place, with consequent loss of sugar.