How olive oil production is generating extra benefits
An olive grower in Spain has adopted a new way of disposing of waste material which is benefitting the environment as well as generating valuable bi-products.
Processing olives to produce oil generates large volumes of waste – stones, skin and flesh – which farmers have traditionally burnt or simply left on nearby hillsides to gradually decompose.
But an innovative olive processor in Andalusia, determined to do something useful with the waste, has instead invested in a rotary pyrolysis unit that heats up the material to produce a synthetic gas and charcoal.
“It’s a much cleaner solution for the environment and one which we hope other olive processors will seriously consider adopting,” says James Douglas, technical director at Mitchell Dryers. “Andalusia is the world’s largest olive oil producer so if it takes hold there it could have a big environmental impact.”
The customer visited the Mitchell Dryers research and test centre in the UK to oversee trials of sample materials and to view the type of indirect-fired rotary calciner that was being proposed. “Virtually all of the machines we supply are bespoke but it’s still helpful for customers to see similar equipment,” says James.
The solution, which includes feed and discharge systems and a control system, has now been running successfully for three years.
“We’re now looking at installing the next system at another site, and we’re investigating a solution which would mean that the customer can use the synthetic gas they’re producing, rather than natural gas, as a fuel source.
“It’s an especially rewarding project because as well as making the process much more environmentally friendly, we’ve found ways to generate useful bi-products which have a monetary value for the customer too,” says James.