Researchers Develop a Method to Retrieve the Sugar in Olive Pits

The high quality of the raw material, mostly glucose, allows its use in food and pharmaceutical applications.
Jan. 21, 2021
Paolo DeAndreis

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Eighty-three per­cent of the sugar found in olive pits can be effi­ciently retrieved and, thanks to the high qual­ity of the raw mate­r­ial extracted, it can then be used in sev­eral dif­fer­ent indus­trial processes.

Researchers at the University of Jaén has devised a new method they believe will appeal to the food and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal indus­try as well as the bio­fu­els sec­tor.

In a note pub­lished by the University, researchers explained that those results depend on a two-step pro­ce­dure: An acid solu­tion is used to sep­a­rate the con­tents of the olive pit before the chem­i­cal bonds are bro­ken down so that the new com­pounds may emerge.

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This tech­nique saves most of the sug­ars involved, and that means a greater poten­tial for the derived bio­log­i­cal prod­ucts,” explained Eulogio Castro, co-author of the study pub­lished by the Industrial Crops and Products jour­nal.

More specif­i­cally, the glu­cose retrieved by the new pro­ce­dure is trans­formed into derived bio-prod­ucts among which the sci­en­tists cited bio-ethanol, an effi­cient bio-fuel com­pound, xyl­i­tol, a widely used sweet­ener, and lac­tic acid, which is a base for the pro­duc­tion of sev­eral macro-mol­e­cules.


As a result of the com­bined pre­treat­ment under the selected oper­a­tion con­di­tions,” the researchers reported, an over­all sugar pro­duc­tion yield of 83 per­cent of the total sugar con­tent in raw olive stones can be obtained, tak­ing into account the dif­fer­ent sugar streams gen­er­ated along the whole process.”

The next step for the engi­neers and researchers is to apply the new method to much higher vol­umes of olive pits. The pro­ce­dure will be inte­grated within a bio-refin­ery plant where tra­di­tional energy sources are sub­sti­tuted by renew­able sources.

The study is part of a three-year-long project car­ried out in Madrid by the CIEMAT (Centre for Energy, Environmental and Technological Research) titled Progress towards a flex­i­ble bio-refin­ery of raw mate­ri­als and prod­ucts in regions with a high den­sity of agro-indus­trial bio­mass: case of the olive grove.”

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