PEF (pulsed electric field) treatment in olive oil production

Very little has changed in industrial olive oil production over the last two decades. Innovation and technological development are needed for the olive oil industry to prosper. oliveCEPT is an application based on PEF technology to help olive oil producers with production yields, costs, sensory features, waste reduction, health concerns, and nutritional characteristics.

What is PEF (Pulsed Electric Field)?

Pulsed electric field (PEF) is a sustainable and eco-friendly method. It reduces organic waste, extends shelf-life, and enhances and preserves the quality of the product in question, like olive oil.

The basic principle of the technology is the application of short square wave pulses of high voltage that generate very high electric fields. Due to the short pulses of microsecond magnitude, excessive heating and undesirable electrolytic reactions are minimized.

As a result this causes the cell membranes to become permeable, leading to the inactivation of the microorganisms or enzymes. 

Scientific Research on PEF treatment in the olive oil extraction process

Olive paste is pumped through a treatment chamber were the pulsed electric fields are applied disrupting the cell membranes.

The effects of PEF in olive oil production

The effects of PEF on olive oil include:

  • Increased yield: by breaking down the cell walls of the olives, making it easier to extract the oil.
  • Improved quality: improve the quality of olive oil by increasing nutrient content such as the number of polyphenols
  • Increased stability: by reducing the amount of free fatty acids, can cause the oil to go rancid over time.
  • Increased shelf life: by reducing the number of microorganisms, which can cause the oil to spoil.
  • Reduced energy consumption: PEF treatment requires less energy compared to traditional thermal methods, this can result in cost savings for the producer.

 

There are several factors that can determine the impact of Pulsed Electric fields (PEF). Olives are biological materials and qualities such as moisture and ripeness are factors to include in the equation. It is important to note that the optimal PEF treatment conditions will vary depending on the specific olive oil production process and the desired outcomes for the oil.

Therefore it is important to do an assessment of each site.

How is PEF technology applied?

oliveCEPT PEF Application installed in olive oil production line

It is recommended to place the oliveCEPT treatment system after the crusher and prior to the malaxation stage for maximum effect and full benefit. Currently, four models tailored for production lines with capacities from 0,5 – 10 t/h are available.

The system consists of a PEF generator and a treatment chamber. The connection to the oliveCEPT® is done via stainless steel, food-grade fittings. 

Confirmed results in olive oil production

The pursuit of high profits and productive yields can lead to the use of more intense malaxation conditions, negatively impacting the nutritional and sensory qualities of the final product.

The oliveCEPT application has been evaluated in multiple locations with great results. For example, a performance evaluation of the results at Greek producer One & Olive based on samples collected during 4 weeks of continuous production in 2020 – 2021 concluded that malaxation time can be reduced substantially from 45 minutes of the control set down to 5 minutes without affecting the oil yield of the extraction process negatively.

That is to say that quality vs quantity is not a dilemma anymore.

One & Olive is not the only producer achieving this type of success. Rather it is a confirmation of earlier results during oliveCEPT® evaluation at the mills of Agioi Apostoloi and La Balméenne where extraction volume yield was increased even with the malaxing time of 25 minutes.

In Morocco, at Atlas Olive Oils, yield is increased and malaxation time reduced.

Curious to figure out how this olive oil technology could impact your production? Fill out the form below and let’s talk!

Sources

Tamborrino, Antonia, Stefania Urbani, Maurizio Servili, Roberto Romaniello, Claudio Perone, and Alessandro Leone. 2020. “Pulsed Electric Fields for the Treatment of Olive Pastes in the Oil Extraction Process” Applied Sciences 10, no. 1: 114. https://doi.org/10.3390/app10010114

Leone, Alessandro, Antonia Tamborrino, Sonia Esposto, Antonio Berardi, and Maurizio Servili. 2022. “Investigation on the Effects of a Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) Continuous System Implemented in an Industrial Olive Oil Plant” Foods 11, no. 18: 2758. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods11182758

 

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