Name and address of organization: SHKALLA Company & AgroKONI Ltd
Country and region: Albania / Western Balkan
Contact person: Shpresa Shkalla
Tel. + 355 69 22 98 924
Contact person: Ruzhdi Koni
Tel. + 355 68 20 26 534
Use of olive cake as an Alternative Energy Source
Crude olive cake: The residue of the first extraction of oil from the whole olive by pressure. Its relatively high water (24%) and oil (9%) content cause rapid spoilage when it is exposed to air. Crude olive cake contains the olive kernel shell crushed into fragments, the skin and the crushed pulp, about 25 percent water and a remaining quantity of oil making them subject to rapid spoilage. The main problem in preserving crude olive cake is its high water content and the still large quantity of oil it retains. When exposed to air this type of olive cake quickly becomes rancid and unfit for animal consumption. At present dehydration is a costly process in view of the high cost of the energy required. Furthermore, in the case of crude olive cake which still has a high oil content, dehydration as a preservation method appears to be very doubtful. Considering the ever increasing prices of fuel to be used for heating their seedling production greenhouse, the Agro-Koni Ltd. decided to change the steam generation system from fuel/heavy oil to olive pits. The supplier of the new steam generator instructed the company to use olive pits as the burning material, which first is not available in the country and second, although much cheaper then fuel, still is expensive, but its availability became a real concern. Considering olive oil waste disposal as one of the long term concerns of the olive processing industry in Albania, in cooperation and under the assistance of Pieralisi Co., who is the provider of the majority of olive oil mills in Albania, it is managed to convert the steam generators’ burners from fuel to olive cake use. Consequently, all olive oil mills in the country use olive cake as an alternative source of energy.
Objective of the best practice
Considering the fact that this approach has a multiple effect, i. e. not only offers an alternative source of energy, but also a very effective way of mitigating the environmental concern of the disposal/use of olive cake, while this industry produces a much bigger quantity of olive oil cake as a “waste”, but still valuable as an alternative source of energy, this initiative has already started to be applied by other companies, out of the olive oil industry. The pioneering business who already invested in converting his current steam generation from fuel based into olive cake based source of energy is Agro-Koni Co. In Tirana Region. This company runs a greenhouse seedling production facility. Since one year the company is applying the steam generation through burning the olive cake which is supplied by olive oil mills in the region of Tirana, while when necessary the company is collecting the olive cake from other olive oil mills in the country. Having a lot of information on the olive oil production industry, the company gathered the necessary data on the availability of the olive cake among the olive oil producers but also arranged site visits, in order to inspect the quality and the available quantities. As a result of these efforts, it was made possible that Agro-Koni purchased about 300 mt of olive cake from different olive oil processors, such as: Shkalla, Tre-Miqtë, Subashi, etc. (all olive oil producers in Tirana region), but because of limited quantities available in the region, the company expanded its sources of supply out of the region as well. Although this is a small amount of olive cake used for this purpose, it seems to be a business with a promising future, since the roughly calculated annual demand for this material for the Agro-Koni heating need is about 300 - 600 mt/year. This means a cheaper and locally available source of energy for Agro-Koni and less environmental concern for Albania. The olive oil processors, appreciated this deal as well, because it was not only a good source of income (1 mt of olive cake = 100$), but also a good solution for the disposal of their olive cake, which until now has been considered a problematic waste and environmental issue, although many olive oil processing firms use this for their heating purposes as well.
Who is going to use the best practice
Other businesses who need steam/hot water in their business, such as dairy & meat processors, greenhouse growers, etc.
- Cheaper sources of energy;
- Better environmental protection practices
Expected results and indicators to measure success
- Olive oil processors will be aware on the value of olive oil cake and stop considering it as a waste but as a by-product of their industry;
- Due to this awareness, the industry will invest in improving their current practices of waste management;
- Add value to this by-product;
- Reduce the olive oil cost of production;
- Increase the business income.
Possibility of transferring the best practice
This is a great potential, since it is calculated that the total country production of olive cake is about 3500 – 4000 mt/year. Through a simple awareness campaign, such as group meetings, site visits and media coverage, more people involved in the business will become aware on the benefits of this application.