Process Sensors Corporation

Olive Pomace Moisture and Oil Measurement

Olive Oil Production

Olive oil is a premium edible oil prized and consumed around the world. Olive oil production is concentrated in the Mediterranean area, with Spain being the largest producer followed by Italy, Greece, Moroco, Turkey and other countries. Approximately 90% of the global production of over 3 million tonnes comes from this region, with the rest of the world contributing the remaining 10%.

Olive oil is one of the more expensive edible oils, and the price received for the oil produced can vary widely based on production process, region, and variety selection and maturity. At each step of the process, there is a significant financial benefit to optimize the extraction and quality of the oil produced.

Olive Oil Extraction Process

Olive Crushing

Olives are delivered to olive mills fresh from the field to maintain freshness. After removing debris such as twigs and leaves, the olives must be crushed to release the oil. This is normally done through a grinding process with large millstones or crushing in large drums. 

The crushing and grinding serves to break up the olive flesh holding the oil. The result is called olive paste or pomace. 

Olive Oil Extraction

The olive paste is put into a large press with disks separating the layers. Alternatively, a centrifuge can be used. The olive oil that is produced by this first physical extraction is termed extra virgin olive oil and is high quality, flavorful oil that receives the highest price. 

After the first extraction, a significant amount of oil remains in the pomace. Various means are used to extract this oil including centrifugation and the use of solvents. Virgin oil is from a second extraction, while pure olive oil, refined olive oil and olive pomace oil is derived from further processing. The oil produced through these steps is of lower quality and price.

The various oils are centrifuged to remove water and may be filtered before bottling for shipment and sale. Olive oil is graded based on the process, free fatty acid content, acidity and flavor. 

Measuring Points

Moisture and Oil Measurement:   An initial measurement of oil, moisture, and oil on a dry weight basis of the initial paste indicates the oil potential of the olives and can be used for payment to the farmer. Mill operators can use these parameters to optimize the grinding and initial extraction parameters. 

Oil Measurment: Analysis of the residual oil in pomace after each extraction step at each stage indicates the efficiency of the extraction and prevents wasting potential production at each step. This information at-line ensures that the mill operators maximize the yield of the high-value oil during the early extraction stage. 

With the quality and thus price of the oil produced declining in each step of the extraction process, it is important to maximize the efficiency of the extraction at each stage. The QuikTest-Olive analyzer produces moisture, oil and oil on a dry weight basis measurments at-line in 10 seconds for instant feedback about the initial olive raw material as well as in-process parameters.

Value

The price between the various grades of olive oil varies widely, and extracting the most oil possible at each step maximizes the potential production of higher quality oils and thus the profits for the mill. Maximizing the extra virgin and virgin olive oil produced will maximize the return to the mill and increase profits. 


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