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Supporting SME driven olive industry to comply with EU directives (En-X-Olive)
Start date: Nov 1, 2008, End date: Jan 31, 2012 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Technical scenario: Olive production is a significant economic sector in southern Member States, especially in Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal. However, the extraction process involved in olive oil production generates non−biodegradable phytotoxic waste, and is therefore a significant source of pollution. Despite the introduction in the 90s of improved separation systems such as 2-phase centrifugation system, that reduce both water use and the quantities of liquid residues produced, the problems of waste toxicity, high energy consumption and the disposal of final residues remain . Olive oil production gives a final waste consisting in a solid and very humid by-product called ‘‘alperujo’’ (AL) or “Olive wet cake”. The problem of AL disposal has not been fully resolved and research into new technological procedures that permit its profitable use is needed. In addition, these wastes also contain valuable resources such as phenolic compounds, (approximately 53% in olive oil mill waste waters), characterised by different biological activity properties which could be of interest in industry (i.e. their strong antioxidant activity). Current extraction of these compounds is not available from olive oil waste water, since technology is not fully developed and optimised to get large scale prototyping such as Pilot plant stage. Proposed solution: We propose a method focused on both treatment of olive waste waters with by anaerobic digestion transforming biomass into biogas, basically Methane, and extraction from liquid fraction of valuable products, such as polyphenols. Synergy between these technologies will allow overcome technical barriers such as polyphenol inactivation of the digestion process, making more efficient the process and letting a higher purity of the waste water product.

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