CORDIS - Forschungsergebnisse der EU

Supporting SME driven olive industry to comply with EU directives

Final Report Summary - EN-X-OLIVE (Supporting SME driven olive industry to comply with EU directives)

ENXOLIVE proposes a method to treat the olive oil production wastes focused on anaerobic digestion transforming biomass into biogas, recovering water and extracting valuable products, such as polyphenols and fertilisers. A full featured prototype of an industrial plant has been designed and validated including all the different modules of the ENXOLIVE process. This integrated industrial plant takes into account the results from laboratory and pilot plant tests scaling them to industrial size and capacity. The final industrial plant of ENXOLIVE includes the following processes:

1. extraction of polyphenols (liquid and solid)
2. anaerobic digestion (liquid and solid);
3. biogas valorisation;
4. fertilisers extraction;
5. reusable water.

ENEXOLIVE market analysis and business calculations show optimistic results. All the partners in the consortium agreed that ENXOLIVE results present good prospects for subsequent commercialisation. The overall process of ENXOLIVE can be implemented in Greece, Italy and Spain, adapting it to the wastes considered. ENXOLIVE perfectly deals with the restrictions coming from the European Union (EU) directives related to wastes management, renewable energy sources (RES) generation, fertilisers' extraction and reusable water. It remains also possible to implement the 'extraction of polyphenols' separately for a specific kind of waste. Another marketable solution is just the anaerobic digestion process. The valorisation of the biogas can be done just by using a boiler or a cogeneration engine, depending on the biogas flow generated during the year.

ENXOLIVE concept has successfully been proven. ENXOLIVE plant has been validated for liquids and solids wastes from olive oil production, dairy and manure wastes. Finally it can also be used to manage other organic residues.

Project context and objectives:

The production of olive oil is concentrated essentially in the countries of the Mediterranean basin and this activity is of great importance for the economy of these countries. The main olive oil producing countries are Spain, Italy and Greece. Olive oil production, previously a traditional family activity, has seen recently the merging of advance oil mills, giving rise to larger and industrial facilities. Larger facilities imply also increased requirements for the management of their wastes and by-products. On the other hand, a technological evolution has taken place in the sector, particularly centred on the appearance of the extraction continuous systems, which have forced the design of new managing strategies in the field. The demand for solutions that are technically and economically viable is highly apparent in the sector. European olive oil producer countries, together with the associated countries, produce more than six million m3 waste waters, the most polluting residue. Due to the pH value, the fat content and the organic content, the effects of this polluting water is the consumption of the dissolved oxygen, preventing the normal development of the fauna and flora.

The olive oil production process is different depending on the country considered. In Spain the majority of olive oil producers are using two phases process. This process generates MHWW, a polluting washing water from the process and olive mill solid waste (OMSW) o 'alperujo', a very polluting solid waste with an humidity of 60 to 70 %. OMSW is not considered a waste since it is used as raw material for the pomace olive oil producing industry. Degradable organic carbon (DOC) or 'orujillo' is a waste generated from the pomace olive oil production process with very low humidity content. Actually it is burned to produce heat but ENXOLIVE process can increased its added value and make it more profitable for the pomace olive oil producers by generating additional by-products.

In Greece and Italy, the most of the olive oil producers are using three phases process generating olive mill waste water (OMWW) ('alpechín' very polluting waste waters) and OMSW ('orujo', very polluting solid waste with humidity of 48 to 50 %). The use of pomace olive olive oil process is not so common in these countries than in Spain, so the OMSW are considered not a raw material but a polluting waste. In fact, nowadays in the region of Peza (Greece) and Avellino (Italy), the OMSW and OMWW are not treated. They are spread into pounds being an important source of pollution that should be controlled.

EU directives that the olive oil production industry needs to be compliant with are the following:

1. RES: The main contribution to the development of RES in EU could come from biomass (White Paper and Green Paper).
2. Management of wastes: Framework directive on waste (2008/98/EC). Waste treatment is focused on prevention of waste, followed by reuse of residues and finally wastes elimination.
3. Thematic strategy on the sustainable use of pesticides (COM(2006)372)
4. Directive 2009/128/CE: It establishes a framework for Community action to achieve a sustainable use of pesticides.
5. Normative (CE) No. 1107/2009: Concerning the commercialisation of plant protection products.
6. Directive soil framework (COM(2006)232): Member States (MS) should systematically identify and combat deteriorating and degradation of soil.
7. Water Framework Directive (WFD, 2000/60/CE): Establish the full cost recovery as a guideline for water pricing.
8. Directive about ground water (2006/118/CE): It is a Directive of the WFD which deals with problems related to water quality.
9. Directive about nitrates (91/676/CEE): The overall objective is to protect European waters against excess of nitrates from agriculture.
10. Landfill Directive (99/31/CE): For the discharge of wastes.
11. Directive on the treatment of urban wastewater (91/271/EEC): This Directive concerns the collection, treatment and discharge of urban waste water from different kind of sectors.
12. Birds Directive (79/409/EEC) and Habitats Directive (92/43/EC): They recognise that the loss and degradation of habitat are the main threats to the conservation of wild birds and other species.

ENXOLIVE appears as an innovative solution for the treatment of solid and liquid wastes with optimal results generating several by-products:

1. polyphenols, extracted from liquid and solid oil wastes;
2. biogas by anaerobic digestion of a mixture of liquid olive oil wastes and dairy wastes. Chemical oxygen demand (COD) is reduced at nearly 100 %;
3. biogas by anaerobic digestion of a mixture of solid olive oil wastes and manure wastes. COD is reduced at nearly 100 %;
4. electricity and heat from biogas produced: generate positive energy balance;
5. fertilisers by recovering valuable compounds like nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P);
6. reusable water.

Main benefits obtained from ENXOLIVE are the reduction of the volume of wastes, being compliant with existing and emerging regulations (EU Directives) and the generation of important by-products.

Project results:

Main scientific and technological (S&T) results and foregrounds from ENXOLIVE are obtained from the tests performed to all the wastes from the olive oil production.

ENXOLIVE is a highly modular product allowing for adapting its architecture to the requirements of the different countries or regions and waste varieties. In that sense, ENXOLIVE can be marketed as a combined solution recovering biogas and polyphenols or just as a modular solution that can recover just one product if required. ENXOLIVE solution allows also treating other source of wastes like dairy or manure wastes.

Potential impact:

Potential impact from ENXOLIVE mainly covers the olive oil waste management sector decreasing the operational costs by including a new source of revenue selling the generated products. It also allows a business diversification by creating a strategic merge with the dairy and manure sector, contributing to the economic stability and growth of rural areas, fulfilling the wastes legislation, reducing pollution, upgrading job profiles and increasing employment opportunities, narrowing the gap between well developed and less developed regions.

Dissemination activities performed by the partners during the project duration include:

1. scientific articles published by FHG and Cartif in 'International Conference on Polyphenols', 'Orbit' and 'AGRO';
2. talks by UGN in several trade fairs;
3. talks by Prodeval in Pollutec exhibition;
4. talks by ANEO in Expoliva fair;
5. talks by Pezaunion to their associates and in IFDTEX, Eleothecnia;
6. talks by Apooat in Oliocapitale.

The strategy to approach the market and exploit the results focus in two models:

1. Model one: Market directly the technology and the engineering services by licensing the design and construction of waste recycling plants for end-users.
2. Model two: Market the complete service of waste recycling by designing and constructing waste recycling plant for the direct exploitation by the consortium members.

In the first case, model one, our product is the waste recycling plant itself and the end-users are the waste producers or waste service providers. In this model we license the technology developed on the project dealing just indirectly with the consumers of the by-products.

In the second case, model two, the construction and operation of the plant is provided by the consortium members and profits will come from two fronts: fees from the waste producers and incomes from the consumers of the by-products, more specifically:

1. Biogas, heat and electricity: Biogas is produced in good quality and quantity by digesting the liquid and solid wastes. It can be burned to produce heat or electricity to be sold to the electrical supplier or reused within the olive oil production process.
2. Polyphenols: These compounds have a high antioxidant action that makes them very valuable in cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry. It is a very promising market.
3. Recycled water: Mediterranean region is very demanding in terms of recycled water.
4. Fertilisers: The correct amount of P and N make good fertilisers giving another source of income.

Apart from the economic benefits of ENXOLIVE exploitation, a very important impact of this process is the pollution reduction that complies with the EU legislation.

Project Coordinator:
Maria Ana Pérez Malesys
Tecnologías Avanzadas Inspiralia
C/ Estrada 10 5B 28034 Madrid
Tel: +34-914-170457
Fax: +34-915-563415

List of beneficiaries:

- ITAV (Spain)
- FHG (Germany)
- Cartif (Spain)
- Apooat (Italy)
- Pezaunion (Greece)
- ANEO (Spain)
- Idecal (Spain)
- Lachifarma (Italy)
- UGN (Germany)
- Prodeval (France)

This publishable summary report and other public information about EXOLIVE project can be found at