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Reinventing the Olive: Oil, Drugs and Biodiesel

Reinventing the Olive: Oil, Drugs and Biodiesel

April 25, 2011

Alternative Energy

Professor Zeev Wiesman

Professor Zeev Wiesman

Earth911 — Olive oil has proven to be one world’s most healthy oils to consume. No wonder the world’s production of olive oil is only increasing.

But, as production levels for olive oil rise, so do the waste products that come from the process of creating it.

Did you know only 20% of the mass of an olive is currently useful? 50-55% of the mass becomes “pomace” which can pollute waterways and groundwater with too much nutrients and organic compounds. The rest is mostly water with traces of phenols.

Environmental journalist Brian Clark Howard recently visited Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and spoke to Prof. Zeev Wiesman, head of BGU’s Phyto-Lipid Biotechnology lab about ways this waste could be reused.

“We can use the lipids in the waste to make biodiesel, and we can take the organic material that’s left from that and ferment it into ethanol. That contains more energy than corn,” says Wiesman. “Everyone is looking for energy sources to replace petroleum.”

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