There is a electrifying new way to squeeze more from an ancient resource – olives.
“We have improved the olive oil extraction process by using a technology based on a pulsed electric field,” explained Arturo Portugal, a research engineer at CRIC.
In Malagón in central Spain, a small company is testing out a shocking new form of oil extraction.
The idea is to shock the olives with an electrical pulse before squeezing them.
The brief pulses of a strong electrical field enlarge the pores in the cellular membranes, simplifying the extraction of oil.
Arturo Portugal told us: “The electric pulses, generated by this machine, are directed to this electric box where they pass through the olive paste, pumped through the pipes.”
The result is more oil from the same amount of raw material.
What is more, punching open the pores of the fruit with an electric pulse makes it simpler to get the best oil from unripe olives.
The owner of Aceites Malagón, Aniceto Gómez said: “To ensure the best quality of oil, it’s important to extract it without heating. This project facilitates that process, making it possible to extract oil from the best green olives at ambient temperature.”
The pilot plant is treating six litres of olive paste per second.
Once proven, the technology, developed within an EU project, will be scaled up to full production levels.
Arturo Portugal said: “The emerging markets outside Europe nowadays produce goods at much lower price. This project means we can improve the competitiveness of our olive oil sector by increasing its productivity.”