European olives feed biofuel innovation

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More than just a canapé

The Phenolive project, co-funded by the European Union, involves pressing every last drop of value out of the olive. At the Phenobia Laboratory, a start-up enterprise begun by the University of Bordeaux, scientists also play a role in the Phenolive project. They are identifying compounds which can be taken from the olive pomace after it has given up its oil and before it’s turned into energy.

“The laboratory specializes in the analysis of phenols in different types of raw materials for finished products such as cosmetics, food supplements or food,” Director Xavier Vitra told France’s LaBiotech web site. He added that extracting the polyphenols will add value to the pomace.

Olive farming is big business in the southern parts of Europe

The polyphenols from olive residue are used as antioxidant additives in foods as well as nutritional supplements and cosmetics. In Europe it’s estimated the market will be worth 290 million euros ($404 million) annually within a few years, according to the Phenolive web site.

“We’re very conscious about using the resources we have and that’s why these waste materials are in focus now, to use them to provide high valuable products,” adds Stefan Müller.

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