Selection of the best pretreatment for hydrogen and bioethanol production from olive oil waste products


Olive Pomace, derived from olive oil production, is rich in lignin and cellulose.

Olive Mill Wastewaters have high content of polyphenolic compounds.

Chemical pretreatments were tested to hydrolyse cellulose and to reduce polyphenols.

All the pretreatments increased the bioethanol and hydrogen concentration.


Bioethanol is one of the most promising renewable energy sources, and it can be used as an alternative to petroleum-derived products. Agro-food residues are the substrates most frequently used for bioethanol production through anaerobic fermentation. The cultivation of olive trees and olive oil production are important economic activities throughout all Mediterranean countries. The wastes derived from olive oil production include a liquid waste, known as Olive Mill Wastewater (OMW), and a semi-solid waste, called Olive Pomace (OP), which is rich is lignin and cellulose materials. The aim of this work is to evaluate the quantity of hydrogen and bioethanol that could be extracted from an OMW-OP mixture after Saccharomyces cerevisiae anaerobic fermentation. In addition, different pretreatments (ultrasonic pretreatment, basic pretreatment, and calcium carbonate addition) have been tested to increase the glucose concentration and, consequently, the bioethanol and hydrogen production in the reaction medium and to decrease the content of inhibiting polyphenols which are mainly present in the OMW. All of the pretreatments were shown to have improved the hydrogen and bioethanol concentration at the end of the fermentation. The basic and ultrasonic pretreatments resulted in the best bioethanol and hydrogen production. These two pretreatments contributed to the hydrolysis of the lignin and cellulose and to increasing the soluble sugars (in particular glucose) content in the reaction mixture. Calcium carbonate addition decreased the polyphenol concentration; the polyphenols inhibit the fermentation mediated by S.cerevisiae.


  • Bioethanol;
  • Hydrogen;
  • Agro-food wastes;
  • Physical and chemical pretreatments;
  • Olive Pomace;
  • Polyphenols

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