Spanish Study Reveals Olive Pit Biofuel Potential

A study shows that olive pits provide the highest calorific yield of any comparable fuel source and a lower environmental impact.
Olive pomace at a mill in Cyprus
By Simon Roots
Dec. 9, 2021 09:44 UTC

Juan Vilar Strategic Consultants have pub­lished the results of their study into the use of olive pits as bio­fuel.

The find­ings of the Jaén-based con­sul­tants show that such fuel is envi­ron­men­tally friendly, has a high calorific value (4,500 calo­ries per gram) and is very eco­nom­i­cal (sav­ing up to 70 per­cent com­pared to gaso­line or diesel.)”

In an aver­age sea­son, around six mil­lion tons of olives are pro­duced in Spain, and approx­i­mately 15 per­cent of this mass (900,000 tons) com­prises pits.

See Also:Researchers Develop a Method to Retrieve the Sugar in Olive Pits

Currently, some 450,000 tons of olive pits are obtained each year by olive-dress­ing indus­tries and oil extrac­tors, of which 323,500 tons are mar­keted, mostly for use as bio­fuel within the agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

One of the study’s main con­clu­sions is that if this resource were bet­ter-exploited, Andalusia’s agri-food sec­tor could become self-suf­fi­cient in energy terms, with each season’s olive pit pro­duc­tion pro­vid­ing enough elec­tric­ity to meet the entire sector’s annual needs. As well as reduc­ing costs and cre­at­ing new rev­enue streams, this would bring envi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits.

Because it is a nat­u­rally-occur­ring byprod­uct of such an estab­lished indus­try, the envi­ron­men­tal impact of olive pit pro­duc­tion is extremely low when com­pared to that of fos­sil fuels or even other bio­fu­els which require ded­i­cated cul­ti­va­tion and pro­cess­ing.

In addi­tion, when cor­rectly pre­pared, the pits con­tain low mois­ture con­cen­tra­tions and few impu­ri­ties, lead­ing to low emis­sions dur­ing com­bus­tion.

Domestic use is also addressed since, as the authors note, the com­bi­na­tion of tech­no­log­i­cal advances and ris­ing fuel costs in recent years have made solid-fuel heat­ing sys­tems sig­nif­i­cantly more viable.

They cal­cu­late that the cost of energy pro­duced by olive pits in this way is as low as €0.025 per kilo­watt-hour.


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