Microalgae and Olive Oil Together for the Environment. Is it possible to obtain environmentally friendly olive oil from microalgae? In order to obtain olive oil, it is necessary to wash the olives first. For this process, you need to spend 100 liters of drinking water on approximately 50 kilos of olives. In addition, the washing process is long, complex and expensive. Scientists aim to clean olives with an environmentally friendly method in the Algatecll project. At the center of their research is microalgae.
Chemical engineer Benito Mogedas states that microlags clean polluted water: “During the photosynthesis stage, microalgae remove some contaminants found in wastewater, such as nitrate, phosphate or phenolic compounds. In other words, microalgae act as a natural cleaner for dirty water. The key issue in our research is to reach the right balance between the oxygen and carbon dioxide ratio in the water. If we can access this data, we can develop a more efficient recycling system and take a big step forward in our research.”
In the Spanish province of Cordoba, this pilot agricultural cooperative hosts the European Union supported project.
Chemical engineer Antonia Maria Lorenzo Lopez is the coordinator of the project. Pointing out that 90 percent of the water used in the olive grinding process is consumed during the cleaning phase, Lopez states that their aim is to 'recycle and reuse all the water'.
Laboratories in the city of Granada focus on how microalgae clean the water. At this stage, scientists use LED beams. With microbiological techniques, it is tried to increase the appetite of the microalgae stored in the bioreactors to the maximum level.
Microbiologist Agustin Lasserrot is very pleased with the findings of the research: “We have already achieved some findings. The temperature of the water should be 27 degrees. The pH level should remain neutral. We also know the ideal density of carbon dioxide. Also how much oxygen is needed. From these data, we can measure the ratio of elements such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium that will enable microalgae to develop in the healthiest way possible.”
Of course, one of the most important goals is to make the European olive oil market more competitive for producers.
Manager Antonio Cielos Campos touches on the economic aspect of the business: “An efficient recycling system helps you reduce your water consumption. So you save money. Moreover, you will have an environmentally friendly production.”
Kimya Lopez explains that the real innovation is to reduce water consumption: “Our goal is to provide olive oil producers with the opportunity to recycle and reuse their polluted water at the price of tap water. Only at this level were we able to achieve a realistic solution to reduce the usual water consumption.”
Researchers hope that the recycling system they developed will be available to olive oil producers within 5 years.
source : euronews