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Friday, 13 December 2013 00:00

New research conducted on a new natural adjuvant to facilitate the process of making olive oil

Manuel Moya and a researcher at the lab Manuel Moya and a researcher at the lab

This component is cheaper and more abundant than the processing aids currently used, and improves the performance of the industrial procedure without modifying any of the oil properties.

The research group “Chemistry and Environmental Engineering” of the University of Jaen, member of the Agrifood Campus of International Excellence (ceiA3) , is studying a new natural adjunct in order to be able to incorporate it in the process of elaboration of olive oil.This aid is calcium carbonate, a very cheap and abundant compound in nature which, according to the head of the group, Manuel Moya, would vastly improve the elaboration process of olive oil without interfering in its quality and its properties.

An adjuvant is a compound added to the ground olive paste at the moment of entering the mixer so that it improves the elaboration process of the olive oil from this mixture. Oil mills often use talc as an adjuvant. In this sense, the ceiA3 researcher of the University of Jaen states that “calcium carbonate is cheaper and more abundant than talc, and will help the separation of oil and water”. This means that this processing aid will facilitate separation of oil (understood as oil juice), from water and other solid elements, so that a cleaner and purer olive oil is obtained.  Furthermore, the use of this compound allows for the oily mass to be worked in cold temperatures (24 - 25 ° C), allowing for better quality to be obtained without losing any yield.

This new processing aid was patented by the company Minera del Santo Angel (Gilena, Seville), which collaborates with the group in the development of this compound in industrial processes. “We are waiting for the Spanish Ministry of Health to authorize its use, and to include the calcium carbonate within the list of substances that can be legally used as food processing aids" stated Manuel Moya.

The group is also developing other research lines related to this scientific field. One of them is focused on developing the concept of biorefineries to make the most of residual biomass. “We are trying to separate all the biomass compounds and use each one of them to generate natural antioxydants, probiotic food and biofuels, amongst other things”, declared the researcher. In this same line, the team is doing research on the different ways of purifying industrial wastewater, including that resulting from the olive oil extraction process.

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