`Kalamata Conference Examines Modern Olive Oil Production and Sustainability - Olive Oil Times

Kalamata Conference Examines Modern Olive Oil Production and Sustainability

Nov. 14, 2011
Costas Vasilopoulos

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A con­ven­tion for mod­ern oil mill oper­a­tion in the con­text of qual­ity preser­va­tion and envi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity” was held in Kalamata, Greece, on November 4th. Scientists and pro­fes­sion­als of the olive oil indus­try par­tic­i­pated in a dis­cus­sion regard­ing the cur­rent sta­tus of olive oil mills in Greece and the future prospects of pro­cess­ing the residue as a byprod­uct.

One of the use­ful out­comes was that, despite the cur­rent unfavourable sta­tus due to the eco­nomic cri­sis, there is a ten­dency toward putting aside the 3‑phase tech­nol­ogy and using the 2‑phase extrac­tion process in more olive oil mills fol­low­ing the exam­ple set by Spain.

This is the only upgrade for the mills in Greece being funded by the European Union now, which is aimed at reduc­ing the effects of the oil mills on the envi­ron­ment.

It was also pointed out that big­ger mills should be estab­lished, in order to achieve economies of scale thus ren­der­ing the residue exploita­tion prof­itable.

Still, It was stressed that all the avail­able tech­nolo­gies that mod­ern refiner­ies uti­lize to process the semi-liq­uid pulp as a byprod­uct of the two-phase extrac­tion process should take under con­sid­er­a­tion the energy bal­ance involved — mean­ing that there is no ben­e­fit of pro­cess­ing the pulp if the energy con­sumed exceeds the energy acquired (includ­ing trans­porta­tion costs and the refin­ery energy con­sump­tion).

An inter­est­ing fact com­mu­ni­cated was that there is a quan­tity of 400,000 tons of bio­mass every year left on the field after the olives have been har­vested (branches, twigs and leaves), which could be used to pro­duce bio­mass fuel such as pel­lets return­ing a rev­enue of 180 – 200 euros a ton. Agriculturists and earth sci­en­tists con­sented, but drew everybody’s atten­tion to the fact that this organic mat­ter is very use­ful to the humus,” — the left­overs on earth after the plant humi­fi­ca­tion — which makes the soil fer­tile.

Last, a rather rad­i­cal approach to the liq­uid residue exploita­tion is its usage for enrich­ing the water reser­voirs in places with low rain­falls after the residue has been puri­fied. This was pre­sented as an extreme solu­tion when seri­ous prob­lems exist with field irri­ga­tion, but it was dis­missed due to con­cerns over the water being used for domes­tic pur­poses.

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