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BIOOLIVE
Development of industrial solutions for the recycling and valorization of the olive oil fabrication residues for biopolymers and fine chemicals

The olive oil industry is a major activity in Southern Europe and the Mediterraneen bassin, which produces 95% of the world olive oil, 2.4 Mt, and 30 Mt of solid/liquid residues, "alpeorujo".The project will develop new processes to valorize the alpeorujo in the biopolymer and fine chemical industries. The lignine and cellulose contained in the solid residue "orujillo" will be transformed by liquefaction into new polymer components for polyurethane/phenoplaste polymers and will replace the polyol/phenol components issued from the petrochemistry. The fats contained in the liquid residue "alpechin" will be extracted by a vegetal adsorbent made with hydrophoded orujillo and other vegetal fibbers. This process should allow the recovery of fine chemical products from the fats for further valorisation in the pharmacology.

Objectives
Olive industry is a major activity in Southern Europe and the Mediterraneen basin, which produces 2.4 Mt of oil per year (95 % of the world production) and revenue for 2 M enterprises. The olive oil production in the same region generates 30 Mt per year solid and liquid residue (respectively called orujo and alpechin or alperujo for solid/liquid mixture, in Spanish). The first press residues are used to produced second press olive oil called pomace oil (aceite de orujo in Spanish). When the residue is alperujo (mostly in Spain), the liquid part (about 65 %) is evaporated in the pomace oil manufacturing process. When the residues are orujo and alpechin (mostly in Italy and Greece), the liquid residue is disposed in lands or evaporated in open basin. In both cases, the final solid residue of the pomace oil manufacturing is a dry material (10 % humidity) composed of ground olive stone and pulp, called orujillo in Spanish, which amounts to 1.8 Mt per year in Europe. Today, about 30 % of the orujillo is only valorised with low added value for heat production, composting, stone powder and animal feeding for the pulp. The orujillo has a high lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose content. These natural biopolymer elements can be transformed by liquefaction in new monomer compounds for the fabrication of polyurethane and phenoplaste polymers. BIOLIVE will develop technology capable to consume and valorise all the orujillo as a biopolymer compound for the fabrication of new polyurethane and phenoplaste biopolymers.Today, despite the environmental standards, with the absence of cost effective purification technique, the alpechin is disposed in the land, and valuable compounds are lost or evaporated. BIOLIVE will develop technology to provide cost effective filtration adjuvant made with vegetal material like orujillo, to adsorb all the fats from the alpechin and further valorise in the fine chemistry, the purest compounds contained in the fats.

Progress to Date
The first two milestones ML1.2 and ML3.3 at M18, will assess : 1) the performance of the liquefaction process and orujillo at laboratory scale to produce new biopolymer compounds as a partial substitution to current compounds used for the fabrication of polyurethane, phenolic foams and phenolic resins ; 2) the performance, including cost effectiveness, of the hydrophobation process and orujillo at semi-industrial scale to produce filtration adjuvant for the recovery of fats from the alpechin.The third milestone ML1.3 at M24, will assess the quality of the new biopolymer products integrating the biopolymer compounds issued from the laboratory scale liquefaction process.The fourth and fifth milestones ML2.2 and ML4.1 at M32, will assess : 1) the performance, including cost effectiveness, of the liquefaction process and orujillo at semi-industrial scale to produce new biopolymer compounds as a substitution to current polymer compounds used for the fabrication of polyurethane, phenolic foams and phenolic resins ; 2) the type and quality of fats and other compounds extracted from the alpechin.The last three milestones ML2.3, ML2.4 and ML4.2 at M42, will assess : 1) the quality and cost effectiveness of the new biopolymer products integrating the biopolymer compounds issued from the pilot scale liquefaction process ; 2) the quality of the purest compounds for valorisation in the fine chemistry.At M24, the liquefaction process study at laboratory scale is completed. The liquefiat characteristics have been optimised by studying the influence of each process variable and operating condition. A mathematical model for each biomass based polyol and phenol liquefiat has been defined to allow producing and selecting the best samples. The first trials at laboratory scale of polyurethane foam and phenolic resin for wood panel applications are quite encouraging. Significant amount of biomass based phenol and polyol compounds can substitute traditional phenol and polyol from fossil origin. The results for phenolic foams and novolak type moulded resin are not satisfactory, so far, and further studies at laboratory scale of the phenolic resin formulations are necessary.The first filtration trials with hydrophobated orujillo have highlighted the need for a preliminary filtration of the solid particules in suspension in the alpechin to achieve the require filtration rates and efficiency. This should be done with adapted press and/or rotary filtration. The first analysis of filtration cake and filtrate have shown that most of the fats are recovered even with raw orujillo and possibly other vegetal adjuvant used as a silt and pre-coat system.High contents of valuable components such as sterols and squalene are recovered in the filtration cake, while most of the phenols remain in the filtrate.

Results
It has been demonstrated that 'orujillo' can be used as a renewable raw material for the production of substitutes to the phenol and polyol monomers in the formulation of polymers.

Classified in FRUIT, NON-FOOD PRODUCTS

Scientist responsible for the project

Dr GERARD VILAREM
118 route de NARBONNE
31077 Toulouse CEDEX 4
France - FR

Phone: +33 5 62 88 57 43
Fax: +33 5 61536721
E-mail: Gerard.Vilarem@ensiacet.fr

References

Project ID QLRT-2000-00766
Organisation Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse
Area 5.2
Start date 01 January 2001
Duration (months) 36
Total cost 3 564 490 €
Total EC contribution   1 730 000 €
Status Ongoing

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