New valorisation technique of the spent bleaching earth generated as a waste in the refining of edible oils.

The main objective of the project is to research and develop a new valorisation technique of the main waste generated in the edible oil refine process, which enables the valorisation of two components of this dangerous waste, the oil and the bleaching earth.

The use of bleaching earth in the refine process of edible oils and fats is an everyday practice in the oil industry, not only because they eliminate coloured compounds and pigments, but also because they remove trace amounts of phospholipids, mucilage, oxidized glycerol, trace metals and soaps. However, it also constitutes the main source of solid waste in this industry, ranging from 0.5 to 2.0% of the oils and fats treated. The spent bleaching earth (SBE) contains between 25% and 45% of oil, so it has pyrophoric properties, especially the bleaching earth used to refine oils with high iodine value. Several disposal applications were researched in the past: land cover, animal feed, heat source by incineration, biogas production, composting and soil enrichment, brick, asphalt, etc. However, due to the problems found in each of these areas, the majority of the waste are taken to landfills, and are considered hazardous material because of the risk of environmental contamination (but they are not considered as toxic material). To solve this problem, an international consortium formed by three enterprises, has been created. This consortium includes a leading company from the bleaching earth and special clays sector, an oil manufacturer and a skilled laboratory in the development of new oil extraction systems. Therefore, the main objective of this project is to research and develop a new technique for the treatment of the main and most abundant waste generated during the phase of decolorization within the edible oil refining process. This new technique will favour the valorization of the two main components of this dangerous waste, the oil and the spend bleaching earth. According to this main goal, there are several specific objectives that must be achieved within this project: - To research and develop a new extraction process for separating the oil from the spend bleaching earth in a sustainable way. - To research and develop a new oil treatment for its utilization as raw material in the manufacturing of biodiesel, glycerine or fatty acids. - To research and develop a new treatment and processing technique of the spend bleaching earths for its application as absorbent products. - To design and validate at laboratory scale the proposed technologies. - To develop a new industrial process based on the preliminary laboratory scale designs. - To design and validate at industrial scale the proposed technologies. As a result of the execution of this project, the environmental problem linked to the management of the most abundant waste generated in the refining process of edible oils, will be solved. This waste is considered to be dangerous for the environmental pollution, and a source of fires and smells. Currently, this waste is either delivered to the dumps or incinerated. On the other hand, the success of this project will increase the competitiveness of the food industry as a direct consequence of the reduction in management costs of wastes.
Project ID: 
7 601
Start date: 
Project Duration: 
Project costs: 
1 480 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Hazardous Materials
Market Area: 

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.