Valorization of olive pomace by a green integrated approach applying sustainable extraction and membrane-assisted concentration

M. Antónia Nunes, Sylwin Pawlowski, Anabela S. G. Costa, Rita C. Alves, M. Beatriz P. P. Oliveira, Svetlozar Velizarov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Olive pomace is a semi-solid paste resulting from the two-phase olive oil production, being the most significant waste generated by this agro-industry. Olive pomace is reported as an environmental hazard due to its high content in phenolic compounds (phytotoxic). Nevertheless, these compounds, when recovered, can have impactful actions in different human physiological conditions, namely, skin protection, dysfunction treatment or diseases prevention. Therefore, their recovery from olive pomace is crucial for environmental and economical sustainability, without forgetting the functional challenge. In a previous work, lipid and aqueous fractions of olive pomace were studied regarding its major bioactive compounds. The present research aims to describe an environmentally friendly integrated approach to extract and concentrate (by a pressure-driven membrane processing) the phytotoxic compounds of olive pomace. Three types of polymeric composite membranes (NF90, NF270 and BW30) were tested. The composition of the resulting streams (permeates and concentrates) were compared and the process efficiency assessed based on: (1) antioxidant activity and total phenolic and flavonoid contents; (2) inorganic elemental composition (by Inductively Coupled Plasma Atomic Emission Spectroscopy); (3) pH, conductivity and total organic carbon; and (4) permeate flux, membranes' apparent target solutes rejection and fouling index. The BW30 membrane presented the lowest fouling index and was the most effective for extracts concentration, with no phenolic compounds in the permeates, preventing completely the loss of such compounds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-47
Number of pages8
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2019


  • Bioactive compounds
  • Nanofiltration
  • Olive pomace
  • Phytotoxicity
  • Reverse osmosis
  • Sustainability


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