• The LIFE CYCLOPS project, co-financed by the LIFE Program of the European Commission, will validate a new process to recover polyphenols from waste, thus promoting the circular economy.
• Cetaqua, the Water Technology Center, is leading this initiative, in which Aquatec, an Agbar group company, Borges Agricultural & Industrial Edible Oils, the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSI), Unió Origen and Unió Nuts also participate.
In some Mediterranean countries, olive oil production is one of the most important industrial activities and has increased considerably in recent years. In the process of making olive oil, different wastes are generated that, due to their composition, are polluting, so their management and storage are complex. There are currently different options for this purpose, but its low processing capacity and lack of circularity point to the need for an improved management model.
Specifically, these residues contain a high concentration of polyphenols, antioxidant compounds of great interest due to their nutritional and technological properties. Due to all its benefits, the recovery of phenolic compounds from processed plant foods is becoming an urgent need, especially since the by-products produced are rich sources of these bioactive compounds.
A sustainable and economic solution to valorize waste from the oil industry
In this context, the LIFE CYCLOPS project, which has recently started its activity, aims to technically and economically demonstrate a sustainable technology to recover and value polyphenols from olive oil industry waste. This solution offers a circular economy and zero waste model to take advantage of these surpluses and turn them into high-value-added products for other industries.
In addition, the project will not only focus on polyphenols but on the comprehensive management of waste from the oil industry. Beyond the reuse of these by-products, efforts will be made to produce biogas and digestate, a residual material generated from anaerobic digestion, for use as compost in agriculture. Likewise, the transferability of the LIFE CYCLOPS solution to the wine industry will be carried out.
LIFE CYCLOPS will test its technology in two different locations
The LIFE CYCLOPS solution will be validated on a pilot scale at the facilities of the Borges Agricultural & Industrial Edible Oils company, hereinafter BAIEO, leaders in the industrial processing, packaging and marketing of olive and seed oils, and vinegars, among other Mediterranean foods. With the application of technology on a large scale, it will be possible to treat 100% of the alperujo generated in the facilities of the mill that BAIEO has in Cabra, Córdoba, in order to revalue the by-products generated during the extraction of olive oil. The pilot plant will then be transferred to Unió Origen, a wine industry cooperative. At the end of the project, the solution is expected to be implemented in 5 oil industry facilities and 8 wine facilities. This represents the production of 41.8 tons per year of polyphenols, a value-added product for the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and cosmetic industry, and the production of 57,800 and 42,400 tons per year of dephenolized alperujo and wine residues, suitable for co-digestion in sewage stations.
The LIFE CYCLOPS consortium, led by Cetaqua, the Water Technology Center, includes the participation of Aquatec, an Agbar group company that will provide the technology; the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) through the Institute of Catalysis and Petrochemicals― which will focus on the purification and characterization processes of polyphenols and BAIEO, in whose facilities the pilot plants, Unió Origen and Unió Nuts, will be located.