The two-phase Olive Mill Solid Waste (OMSW)

The characteristics of two-phase OMSW are obviously very different from the characteristics of olive cake resulting from three-phase centrifuge systems. Two-phase OMSW is a thick sludge that contains pieces of stone and pulp of the olive fruit as well as vegetation water. It has a moisture content in the range of 60-70% while olive cake from a three-phase extraction process has only around 40-45% moisture. It also contains some residual olive oil (2-4%), 2% ash with a 30% potassium content (Alba et al., 2001).

The average composition of the two-phase OMSW is: water (60-70%), lignine (13-15%), cellulose and hemicellulose (18-20%), olive oil retained in the pulp (2.5-3%), mineral solids (2.5%). Among their organic components, the major ingredients are as follows: sugars (3%), volatile fatty acids (C2-C7) (1%), poly-alcohols (0.2%), proteins (1.5%), poly-phenols (0.2%) and other pigments (0.5%) (Borja et al., 2002).

As it can be seen, the two-phase OMSW has a high organic matter concentration giving an elevated polluting load. The high polluting power and large volumes of solid waste generated (around 2 millions of tons per year in Spain) can pose large-scale environmental problems, taking into account the 2000 Spanish olive oil factories, most of them located in the Andalusia Community (Borja et al., 2002).

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