CORDIS - EU research results

Training and collaboration on material developments and process improvements in oil and sugar production

Final Report Summary - OIL&SUGAR (Training and collaboration on material developments and process improvements in oil and sugar production)

During this 4-year training program, 5 EU-institutions have shared their background knowledge and put their research facilities at the disposal of 3 non-EU institutions devoted on olive oil production failure analyses conducted on different components, revealing the overwhelming role of wear and corrosion as a failure mechanism. The support from SMEs was obtained during the course of this project, namely Tunisian oil and sugar production companies, a Belgian tribological fee testing company, an Italian producer of nanostructured powders, and a Greek thermal coating spray company.
Damage on parts in industrial equipment used for oil extraction was investigated. Basically tribocorrosion damage occurred, but wear damage was found to prevail in almost all studied field cases. Starting from that field-related fact, the possibility to induce wear by olive seeds has been shown at the lab scale. The wear mechanism appeared to be not only one related to a possible erosive role of remnant sand on olives during olive oil extraction. An experimental system based on a thermo-mechanical sensor has been designed and tested at lab scale for a more realistic evaluation of wear progress on polymer-coated parts during olive and oil extraction process. Dedicated tribological and triboelectrochemical test rigs have been designed and built at non-EU institutions. Recommendations have also been elaborated to replace stainless steels commonly used in oil and sugar extraction units in order to ensure a safe operation of food and bio-oil processing equipment under friction of materials under typical operating parameters present in industrial oil and sugar extraction units. In that respect, a training and research program was focused on the potential of coatings such as TiN, FeW-based alloys, electrospark coatings made of chromium, molybdenum, BrOF6.5-0.15 grade bronze, and a T15K6 hard alloy. The physical properties of olive oil and their effect on substrate corrosion were studied. The exchange of knowledge, scientific results was implemented during workshops and project meeting.
At the end of this project, partners elaborated a list of most promising fields for further investigation and training to support the oil and sugar industry in their respective countries. So e.g. the beneficial action of essential oils to counteract tribocorrosion of stainless steels has been demonstrated as a most promising ‘corrosion bio-inhibitor’ during the course of this project. The project activities were disseminated through national TV broadcasts, presentations at international conferences, and publications in international refereed journals. A number of Ph.D. researchers at the EU and non-EU institutions were involved in this project, and it is expected that they will obtain their degree soon.