Residual biomass potential in olive tree cultivation and olive oil industry in Spain: valorization proposal in a biorefinery context

Paloma Manzanares, Encarnación Ruiz, Mercedes Ballesteros, María J. Negro, Francisco J. Gallego, Juan C. López-Linares, Eulogio Castro


Olive crop and olive oil industry generates several residues, i.e., olive tree pruning biomass (OTPB), extracted olive pomace (EOP) and olive leaves (OL) that could be used to produce high-added value products in an integrated biorefinery. OTPB is generated in the field as a result of pruning operation to remove old branches; EOP is the main residue of the pomace olive oil extracting industry after extraction with hexane of residual oil contained in olive pomace; and OL comes from the olive cleaning process carried out at olive mills, where small branches and leaves are separated by density. In this work, an analysis of the potential of OTPB, EOP and OL residues was addressed by estimating the production volumes at national level and the spatial distribution of these residues using geographic information system software. Information provided by public institutions and personal surveys to the industries was evaluated. Moreover, chemical analysis of the residues was undertaken and the results used to make a first assessment of valorization into biofuels such as bioethanol and bio based chemicals. Results show that close to 4.2 million tons/year of EOP, OL and OTPB derived from olive oil industry and olive tree cultivation in Spain could be available as a raw material for biorefineries in Spain. The analysis of the chemical characteristics indicates the relevant potential of these feedstocks for the production of bioethanol and other compounds such as phenols based on suitable processing and conversion routes, although techno-economic evaluations must be tackled to refine this approach.


extracted olive pomace; olive leaves; olive tree pruning biomass; production yield; bioeconomy; lignocellulose

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DOI: 10.5424/sjar/2017153-10868