Agro-industry residues are not "waste" but are values from Mother Nature.
One of the strengths of Esencial is the R&D department. This department proposes and develops projects focused on improving the quality of products produced with SCFE CO2 green technology.
In the ambitious project of waste processing from the agro-industry, in the case of olive pomace, R&D established a main non-negotiable criterion, the drying of pomace as soon as it comes out of olive oil production. Moreover, microwave drying and further processing with SCFE CO2 were explicitly requested not to reduce the content of the main phytocompounds of olive pomace.
The need for more sustainable processes has led the food industries and
scientists to develop alternative techniques in line with adopting green and environmentally friendly extraction methods. Such operations use renewable plants, green resources, and solvents, such as CO2 inert gas. To reduce energy consumption and working time, steps to valorize agro-industrial by-products such as olive pomace (waste).
Drying methods cause a significant effect on biomass matrices, as in the case of olive pomace, influencing some features of phytocompounds. Therefore, freeze or microwave drying is generally preferred, as it does not damage and reduces losses of volatile components and adverse changes in bioactive compounds' structure, color, and aroma. However, freeze-drying is an expensive process that needs to be fully aligned with economic and environmental sustainability goals. Therefore, our R&D team set up this microwave drying project. This project became a reality thanks to the support of a grant from the #CoSolve-19 project financed by GIZ Albania.
This work focused on drying and subsequent supercritical carbon dioxide (SC-CO2) extraction from the olive pomace, which is environmentally friendly and for functional phytocompound benefits.
Among the phytocomponents left in olive pomace as agro-industry waste, the R&D department has drawn up a schematic display.
Unfortunately, humans call all these chemical compounds given by generous nature "garbage" and then throw them, polluting and contaminating the earth. If these are treated as "waste," and as such, we can destroy them by burning them, we have once again made a grave mistake towards the earth and the environment. For example, after burning olive pomace "waste," some aromatic polycyclic hydrocarbons called Benzo-pyrene get released, which is very dangerous for people and the environment.