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Beyond Oil: Olives as an Energy Source

Oct. 21, 2011
Costas Vasilopoulos

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Today and due to the envi­ron­men­tal aware­ness, peo­ple have turned to other types of fuel alter­na­tives to petro­leum such as bio­mass, a renew­able energy source which is usu­ally plant mat­ter or residues from the for­est, or even munic­i­pal solid waste.

Another source of bio­mass can be pomace, the solid waste that is left from the olive ker­nel dur­ing the olive oil extrac­tion process. When the pomace is processed by the refiner­ies to get the sec­ond grade oil, a solid residue is also pro­duced, the pomace-wood.

Actually this type of fuel is not so new, since being in abun­dance in Greece, Spain and other big olive oil mak­ers it has been used as a fuel at olive oil mills and other plants for years. But now peo­ple are start­ing to real­ize that it can be used to heat houses, hotels and even whole towns.

The pomace-wood does not have the calorific value of petro­leum, but it costs only one third of its price and it is con­sid­ered eco­log­i­cal as it does not emit any sul­fur when burned.

But we are not done yet; a byprod­uct of the pomace-wood burn is the pomace-pow­der. This pow­der can be turned to bri­quettes the size of a roll of coins and these bri­quettes are now widely used at bar­be­cues and restau­rants: they can replace the char­coal since they ignite imme­di­ately, there are no sparks ^ %HVlD}XJH _ fly­ing around and no ugly smells.

The few enter­prises that fab­ri­cate bri­quettes in Europe are sell­ing them to restau­rants in Sweden, Japan and else­where. But the most impor­tant fact is that pomace-wood and pomace-pow­der come from the olive ker­nels and no trees are cut and wasted, thus earn­ing an envi­ron­men­tal-friendly stamp. Undoubtedly, the hum­ble olive fruit is a small trea­sure we are still learn­ing about.

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