Low-DE Sugar Plants

Know-how and technology licensing.

Vogelbusch Low-DE Starch Sugar Technology

Glucose syrup, also known as corn syrup, is a liquid starch sweetener used for foods and beverages. Maltodextrin and other spray-dried glucose syrups are used in the instant food industry as flavor carrier and as thickening agent. 

The feedstock for syrup production is starch milk, which is made from common starch plants such as corn, wheat, rice and cassava.

Starting out from starch milk, we design and supply plants for the production of liquid and dried types of low-DE glucose syrups.

For key figures for low-DE sugar plant construction
Block diagram

Vogelbusch process for low-DE glucose syrup production from starch milk



Low-DE glucose and maltose syrups are obtained from starch milk by enzymatic hydrolysis and subsequent concentration.

Conditioning of starch milk

The feedstock for low-DE starch sugar production is starch milk at a purity ranging from 98 to 99 % of starch in dry substance. 

Starch mixed with process water is buffered in a starch milk vessel to allow homogenization of the starch slurry.

Enzyme hydrolysis

Conversion from starch to sugar is carried out as a two-step enzymatic process.

In the liquefaction step, the starch slurry is treated with enzymes and fed to a jet cooker, where the starch is pre-liquefied. This solution is cooled down in an expansion vessel and placed in an intermediate storage tank for final liquefaction. Maltodextrin and syrups with a DE below 20 do not require a further enzymatic treatment and enzyme has to be (thermally) inactivated while a second enzymatic conversions step is necessary for syrups with higher DE values.

In the saccharification tanks, further enzymes are added to convert the dextrin into glucose and higher sugars (maltose, isomaltose, maltotriose etc.). By carefully selecting the process parameters and enzymes, the desired DE values and sugar profiles are reached within 10 – 30 hours of saccharification time. Once the specified values are reached the enzymes are inactivated to stop reaction.

1 glucose production

The filtration process to separate suspended solids such as fibers and proteins depends on the product range of the plant. 

Since syrups with DE values lower than 40 are highly viscous liquids, classical vacuum drum filters or sintered metal cross flow membranes may be chosen. For syrups with a DE value above 40 also polymer or ceramic cross flow membrane filtration are applied.

Deashing of the filtered solution is done in a pair of strong acidic and weak basic ion exchangers. Color bodies and foreign tastes are reduced to a minimum by activated carbon treatment. This is done either by passing through vessels filled with granular activated carbon or by suspending and subsequent filtering of the activated carbon powder.

To concentrate the solution, a finely tuned system of multiple effect plate type or falling film evaporators is deployed. It is heated by steam and powered by mechanical or thermal vapor re-compression, thus ensuring utmost energy efficiency in combination with minimal thermal stress for the product.

The final dry substance content is adjusted to the market demand, or to the subsequent processing steps.

1 starchsugar 6721

In case of maltodextrin production, the syrup is concentrated by evaporation  to 60 - 65 % DS before final drying. In a spray dryer, concentrated liquid is atomized via nozzles to very fine droplets, which are sprayed into the drying chamber where residual water is evaporated by heated air. The resulting maltodextrin granules are cooled, sifted and packed.

1 grainprocessing
Biotechnological complexes

Syrups are only one of many compounds in the starch sweetener and fermentation business.

Besides starch milk and sweeteners, grain processing facilities additionally can include the production of a whole range of valuable products and by-products such as

  • Dry native starch
  • Dry protein fraction (gluten)
  • Germ fraction
  • Dried and pelletized animal fodder
  • Modified starch and other upgraded starch products
  • Fermentation products

We understand the interaction among substrate, bioconversion, recovery and purification and can assist you in developing your complete grain processing project, from raw material selection through to the final product range.

Contact us for

  • Pre-engineering and feasibility studies including comparison of different product scenarios
  • Determination of the most suitable technical solutions and equipment for drying, filtration, evaporation, ...
  • System integration of all involved technologies (dry milling, wet milling, starch processing, product drying, ...)

More about  » Cross Integration Services

Average consumption figures for low-DE starch sugar production

All figures given here are typical and can vary depending on plant configuration and equipment.

Consumption for 1,000 kg final product
Starch kg 790
Steam kg 860
Power kWh 68

Consumption for 1,000 kg final product
Starch kg 810
Steam kg 860
Power kWh 72

Consumption for 1,000 kg final product
Starch kg 990
Steam kg 1,400
Power kWh 370
Natural gas * std m³ 90
Figures including spray dryer.
*) Steam as alternative heat source for spray dryer possible.


All information given here is typical and can vary depending on plant configuration. For particular information please send us a message with your project details.

Basically, syrups differ in their share of higher sugars, maltose and glucose, which is described by the DE (dextrose equivalent) value.

Below DE 20, syrups are called maltodextrin and mainly contain higher sugars and virtually no monomers. Between DE 20 and 98 syrups are generally called glucose syrup.

 Again, those syrups differ in their share of higher sugars, maltose and glucose

  • Low DE syrups are ranging from DE 20 - 40 and contain mainly higher sugars
  • In maltose syrups, ranging from DE 45 - 60, maltose has the biggest portion
  • High DE syrups with a DE value of > 96 contain mainly glucose

Maltodextrin is mainly made from corn starch. The final product is a spray dried powder.

While maltodextrin is only commercially available as dried product, most glucose syrups are liquid but partly may also be spray dried.

In general any product with a DE range of 10 to 50 or even higher may be produced in such a plant since the main criteria - the sugar profile - is achieved by varied enzymatic reactions.

For the production of maltodextrin or other dried low DE products a spray drier has to be added to the line.

The technology for the production of starch is offered by specialized companies and is not part of the Vogelbusch service package.

Production of liquid low DE syrups should have a capacity above 25,000 tpa. Capacities for maltodextrin production may be smaller.

Decisive factors for the plant location are the same as for grain processing

  • Short transport routes for raw material & the final product
  • Availability of energy and water

The moist suitable location is therefore next to a grain processing facility.

A small low DE plant excluding utilities can be placed in a building of approximately 50 m x 36 m x 18 m (L x W x H). If maltodextrin shall be produced an extra 16 m x 12 m x 16 m has to be considered for the spray drier. Additionally, space for product storage according to ruling logistics has to be foreseen.

Capital expenditure always depends on plant capacity and configuration as well as local conditions. Costs for the process plant for glucose syrup (excluding building, auxiliaries, infrastructure) are from euro 5 million upwards.

This figure is for general reference only since each project has its own particularities that need consideration. 

With permits on hand engineering, delivery of equipment and construction takes 12 - 24 months depending on capacity and complexity of the plant.

Complete our design questionnaire (check Links & Downloads section below) and send it back to us to get a professional opinion on your project.

Process units

Find out more about the processes used in maltose syrup and maltodextrin production: 

Enzymatic conversion of starch into sugar.
Concentrating products and treating effluents.
Removing of ionic impurities and colors.
Ion exchange
Separating suspended particles.
Finishing of products and co-products.


Starch Convention & Bioethanol Technology Meeting

April 09 - 11, Detmold, Germany

Russia: Project progress at Rosva

Installation works are ongoing in Kaluga.