International Journal of Environmental Research

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 713–723 | Cite as

Olive Mill Industrial Waste as Co-substrate in Anaerobic Digestion with Aim at its Energetic Exploitation

  • Carlos Benito-Mora
  • Antonio J Alonso-Contreras
  • Dolores GarviEmail author
  • Laura Pozo-Morales
  • Maria C Morón
  • Julian Lebrato
Research paper


The aim of this paper is to assess the feasibility of the co-digestion of olive mill industrial waste with urban sewage sludge from wastewater treatment plants (WWTP). These wastes include olive mill solid waste (OMSW) and olive mill effluent (OME). This co-digestion process enables the energetic exploitation of OMSW and/or OME and introduces an environmental solution for their highly pollutant compounds. The behaviour of both co-substrates was studied using biochemical methane potential assays. To determine the optimal proportions of each co-substrate, different quantities of OME and OMSW were added to a constant quantity of substrate (urban sewage sludge) and put to test. A small amount of digested sludge from WWTP was used as an inoculum to accelerate the pace of the reactions. Thus, the optimal proportions between substrate and co-substrate were defined. The samples containing OMSW showed a biodegradability around 23%, slightly above that of the substrate on its own (21.3%). Moreover, biogas production in samples containing OMSW was significantly superior to samples containing substrate only. Nevertheless, the samples containing OME as a co-substrate presented an inferior biodegradability (20.3%) to that of the substrate on its own. Similarly, biogas production in OME co-digestion remained within the usual values of urban sewage sludge biogas production. In all cases, the system remained stable and the energetic efficiency of the process was improved in comparison to the digestion of substrate only. Therefore, co-digestion with urban sewage sludge proves to be a cost-effective method for OMSW and OME environmental management.


Two-phase olive mill solid waste (OMSW) Two-phase olive mill effluents (OME) Anaerobic co-digestion Methane yield BMP 



Olive mill solid waste


Olive mill effluents


Urban wastewater treatment plant






Biochemical methane potential


Total solids


Volatile solids


Fixed solids


Mixed sludge


Chemical oxygen demand


Volatile fatty acids


Organic loading rate


Hydraulic retention time



The authors would wish to thank the Empresa Metropolitana de Abastecimiento y Saneamiento de Aguas de Sevilla, EMASESA, for their technical support and supplies of mixed sludge and inoculum they provided us with. They would also like to thank the co-operative society AGROSEGURA for the co-substrates they provided for this research.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© University of Tehran 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.TAR Group RNM159 PAIDI, High Polytechnic SchoolUniversity of SevilleSevilleSpain
  2. 2.Department of Chemical Engineering, High Polytechnic SchoolUniversity of SevilleSevilleSpain
  3. 3.TAR Group RNM159 PAIDI, Department of Applied Physic IUniversity of SevilleSevilleSpain

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