The olive oil industry produces significant amounts of olive pomace waste every year. Disposal has environmental ramifications, as does converting it into a biofuel because the conventional process necessitates the use of corrosive and toxic acids. The MSCA-funded OliPFUEL project aims to change this through a proof-of-concept activity by researchers at the University of Jaen and the bioenergy company Bioliza. The project will develop an environmentally friendly way of optimising the conversion without the use of toxic chemicals by utilising water hydrolysis, yeast fermentation and hydrothermal processes. Results may lead to up-scaled olive pomace biofuel production and a greener energy future.
"Olive pomace waste from edible olive oil industry cannot be currently used due to its acidic pH, high salinity, high phenolic contents, and phytotoxic properties. Its disposal is challenging and creates environmental pollution. Utilization of olive pomace waste for biofuels production is one of the promising solutions. However, conventional methods for production of olive pomace biofuels are using expensive enzymes, corrosive & toxic acids, and are not effective due to high inhibitors content. OliPFUEL will demonstrate a more environmentally friendly and effective process to produce olive pomace biofuels without the use of any toxic chemical. OliPFUEL research on novel integration of "" water hydrolysis, hydrothermal treatment and thermo-resistant H. polymorpha yeast mediated fermentation"" processes to improve reaction kinetics, yield and quality of olive pomace biofuels (solid biofuel-hydrochar, liquid biofuels-bio-oil and bioethanol). Exclusive collaboration and unification of complementary technical expertise of the researcher (thermal processes), supervisor (H. polymorpha fermentation, olive pomace), host institute (University Institute of Research in Olive Grove and Olive Oils, University of Jaen), and a Bioenergy company (Bioliza—recursos estratégicos de Biomasa, S.L.) will ensure project success, research development and transfer of knowledge. I will gain training in fermentation, hydrothermal process, chromatography techniques, project management, and entrepreneurship skills, whereas I will transfer my knowledge on pyrolysis and thermal plasma process to the host. The OliPFUEL will establish proof of concept and could be fundamental for future research for the development of advanced biofuels from waste olive pomace from the olive oil industries, befitting to present EU priorities and UN sustainable development goals - 2030 related to waste resource recycling, clean environment, and renewable clean energy."