Company Develops Microbeads From Olive Pomace

A British company's technology has attracted interest from farmers and producers looking for more value from fruit and vegetable waste.

By Julie Al-Zoubi
May. 30, 2017 10:10 UTC

A British based com­pany has replaced ocean destroy­ing plas­tic microbeads with milled olive stones in an envi­ron­men­tally friendly hand wash made from ground olive ker­nels.

Zembra co-founder Steve Taylor told Olive Oil Times, We man­u­fac­ture olive-based microbeads to order, pri­mar­ily for the cos­met­ics indus­try, and we have an agree­ment with a Norwegian part­ner to take these into the cos­met­ics mar­ket. We have seen increased inter­est as the removal of plas­tic-based beads gath­ers pace.”

We saw some oppor­tu­ni­ties using our joint net­work of con­tacts and tech­nol­ogy in repur­pos­ing food waste.- Steve Taylor, Zembra

Zembra was founded by Taylor, a bio­chemist, and Fabienne Pessayre, owner of a waste treat­ment com­pany. It was through a con­ver­sa­tion with Fabienne Pessayre, owner of Hawthorn Technical Services and the other founder of Zembra, that we saw some oppor­tu­ni­ties using our joint net­work of con­tacts and tech­nol­ogy in repur­pos­ing food waste,” Taylor noted.

Zembra’s tech­nol­ogy and exper­tise are pro­vided by a sis­ter com­pany Celbius, where Taylor devel­oped ultra­sound tech­nol­ogy for use in the bio­pro­cess­ing indus­tries. Celbius’ tech­nique uti­lizes ultra­sound tech­nol­ogy sim­i­lar to that used in med­ical diag­nos­tics, although a lower fre­quency KHz ultra­sound is used. Taylor’s tech­nol­ogy enables the use of water and other harm­less liq­uids to replace toxic sol­vents.

Taylor told Olive Oil Times, When this type of ultra­sound is passed through a liq­uid the sound energy causes extreme tur­bu­lence in the liq­uid, and this can be put to good use. For exam­ple, it may be used to break plant mate­r­ial down to unlock desir­able prod­ucts such as fla­vors and fra­grances, mak­ing them much eas­ier to extract. In a typ­i­cal extrac­tion process, we will take slurry of the plant mate­r­ial and apply ultra­sound to it, remove the plant mate­r­ial by fil­ter­ing then recover the prod­uct from the liquor.”

Steve Taylor

Olive waste is sourced from Pessayre’s con­tacts in the Mediterranean region, Taylor noted. We uti­lize the waste left behind after oil extrac­tion. Much of this waste is sim­ply burnt to pro­duce heat for bak­eries and the like and we wanted to find ways to cre­ate more value from this abun­dant mate­r­ial. This seemed like a log­i­cal start­ing point for devel­op­ing the Zembra busi­ness, and while the UK does not grow olives, the sup­ply of the waste from other coun­tries is not an issue.”

Zembra’s Norwegian part­ner, Aqua Bio Technology (ABT), mean­while, is devel­op­ing sus­tain­able, envi­ron­men­tally-friendly skin­care prod­ucts and cos­met­ics, made from olive waste extracted using Celbius’ ultra­sound tech­nol­ogy.

Zembra has also devel­oped olive bri­quettes for fuel­ing fires and wood burn­ers. The bri­quettes are formed from the dry mate­r­ial left after all liq­uid has been extracted. Compounds extracted from olive waste have also shown poten­tial as soil con­di­tion­ers. Zembra has explored the pos­si­bil­ity of pro­duc­ing a col­orant from olive waste too.

Celbius’ tech­nol­ogy has attracted inter­est from farm­ers and pro­duc­ers look­ing for more value by extract­ing com­pounds from fruit and veg­etable waste. Professionals from fields includ­ing bio­fuel fer­men­ta­tion, waste reme­di­a­tion, and drug inter­me­di­ate syn­the­sis have also expressed inter­est.

Ultrasound tech­nol­ogy makes extrac­tion processes faster and higher yield­ing; result­ing in the max­i­mum pos­si­ble extrac­tion of val­ued com­pounds and the pulling of color from a wide range of fruit and veg­etable waste.

Taylor didn’t dis­close details of any new olive waste prod­ucts in the pipeline say­ing, We would like to keep new devel­op­ments con­fi­den­tial for the moment until we have con­ducted suf­fi­cient test­ing.”


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