The EcoPROLIVE project proposes a new process to obtain olive oil with no wastewater or waste products generation. Instead, the olive is fully utilized for producing valuable olive oils of tailored composition in active compounds (phenols, antioxidants, fatty acids, squalene), and fibre ingredients rich in antioxidants, which will be included in bakery products (breads and biscuits).
Part of the process has already been patented, and further developments are now proposed to improve the quality of the products and the environmental friendliness. These are supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) with CO2, and pulsed electric field (PEF) technology, which are green technologies that can improve the performance and extraction yields of the process.
EcoPROLIVE innovative processing consists of two stages:
In EcoPROLIVE, the 1st stage of the process ends with a solid product that will be further processed by SFE (2nd stage), however, this is a dry product with a low water activity and humidity (5-10%) allowing a long storage and non-seasonal dependence for processing. Moreover, no wastewater is generated, as the olive paste has been dried, there is no vegetation water, so most of the polar phenolic compounds (95%), otherwise wasted along with the water, remain in the solid product. The phenolic content and composition vary widely, but the tyrosol and hydrxytyrosol derivates are the most often investigated for their health benefits and most profitable for the pharmaceutical and food industries.
All products resulting from the EcoPROLIVE innovative processing have commercial value: 1) virgin olive oil, 2) olive stones for heat exploitation, 3) functional essential oil of tailored composition, and 4) product based on phenol-rich fibre. The product rich in fibre and non extracted phenols has an intended use as functional food ingredient.
There are several goals to achieve in the EcoPROLIVE project:
- To demonstrate it is a feasible process, both technically and economically, besides evaluating the environmental positive impact.
- To ensure market success of the novel products and the new process of production.
- To optimize and validate the process and related technology at larger scales of operation (pilot and preindustrial plant).
- To monetize the new developments in scalable markets through replication in different scales and countries. Countries to start with are the main olive oil producers in Europe, which are represented in the consortium of the project (Spain, Italy, Greece, and Portugal).