`New Technology to Recycle Wastewater - Olive Oil Times

New Technology to Recycle Wastewater

By Isabel Putinja
Apr. 27, 2015 08:28 UTC

An EU-funded project has devel­oped an inno­v­a­tive sys­tem of recy­cling the waste­water from olive oil pro­duc­tion.

Algatec II is a col­lab­o­ra­tive research project address­ing the opti­miza­tion of the biotech­no­log­i­cal recy­cling solu­tion for olive wash­ing water’ funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development.

By using the water recy­cling sys­tem olive pro­duc­ers use up to 90 per­cent less water, a major ben­e­fit for the envi­ron­ment.

In order to process 100 kg of olives, about 50 liters of water are used to wash the olives before pro­cess­ing. The left­over waste­water is con­t­a­m­i­nated and can­not be dis­posed of. This is because the polyphe­nols which are found in olives, though good for human health, can be harm­ful to the envi­ron­ment if released in large quan­ti­ties.

Traditionally, waste­water would be left in large evap­o­ra­tion ponds but this method has a few draw­backs: capac­ity is lim­ited, stag­nant water causes the devel­op­ment of bad odors and the breed­ing of insects, and the ponds would often have to be emp­tied man­u­ally.

Using the new tech­nol­ogy devel­oped by ALGATEC II, after the olives are washed, the used water is pumped into a pho­to­biore­ac­tor where the pol­lu­tants are absorbed by micro-organ­isms.

Solar pan­els heat the water to increase the growth of micro-organ­isms when suf­fi­cient sun­light is not avail­able dur­ing win­ter months. The water then runs through two mem­brane fil­ters where any resid­ual pol­lu­tants are removed.

The puri­fied water can be used to wash another batch of olives or even as drink­ing water. A demon­stra­tion plant has been set up at the University of Huelva, Spain.

The ALGATEC II project is made up of five part­ners from small and medium-sized enter­prises (SMEs) in Germany, Italy and Spain. The next step is to develop a busi­ness plan to mar­ket the water recy­cling tech­nol­ogy.


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