Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/100

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88
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

basis on which the German excise duty was established; yet last year the statistical organ of the German Empire reports an average extraction of thirteen per cent. The employment of an ingenious contrivance known as the "diffusion battery" — though simple in its conception, nevertheless illustrates well-known laws of chemical science in the transfusion of liquids, and successfully opens the membranous walls of the sugar-cells of the plant, giving a higher grade of juice, with less gummy, nitrogenous, and fibrous impurities, at less cost than by the old methods of mechanical pressure — has in no small degree contributed to this result. It had taken three quarters of a century to develop the chemistry and the mechanical adjustment of the sugar-beet processes, and even now we notice that the progress in this direction is great.

Meantime France, Belgium, Austria-Hungary, Poland, Russia, and other countries in continental Europe, after a series of unsuccessful attempts, resumed the manufacture of beet-sugar, and by a system of subsidies, bounties, and drawbacks, notwithstanding the many climatic and meteorological difficulties, produced a large quantity of sugar, but little as compared with Germany, as is shown by the following table, estimating the production of beet-sugar in the year 1885:

German Empire 1,155,000 tons.
France 308,000 "
Belgium 88,000 "
Austria-Hungary 558,000 "
Russia and Poland 387,000 "
Holland and other countries 50,000 "
2,546,000 "

The entire production of cane-sugar in Cuba, Java, Brazil, Peru, British India, Egypt, Manila, Louisiana, and other cane-sugar producing countries, during the same period, did not exceed 2,260,100 tons, or less than one half of the world's sugar production.

The simple and inexpensive methods adopted in the German factories have made the beet-sugar manufacture one of the most profitable of industries, and the work goes on day and night, at a prime cost for conversion of two dollars per ton of beets, or one cent per pound of sugar, not estimating the cost of the beet-root, but including labor and all materials used, like coal, coke, lime, charcoal, wear and tear, and interest on the invested capital. The monthly disbursements of such an establishment exceed sixty thousand dollars, and give employment to thousands of wage-earners in direct and collateral industries. One sugar corporation in France reported a net profit derived from the manufacture of beet-sugar a few years ago of two millions of dollars, and the season did not extend beyond one hundred and twenty days. Under