VIDEO: PowerCell wants to produce power from olive oil

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The Nordic fuel cell technology company PowerCell has announced a technology developing project to convert toxic waste from olive oil production into electricity. Biogas2PEM-FC is an E.U. project that PowerCell coordinates. Together with partners from Spain, Greece, Sweden and the U.K., a complete pilot plant has been built in Andalucàƒ­a, Spain.

The waste from olive oil production is environmentally harmful and costly to dispose of. It contains pesticides and toxic organic compounds, it is also acidic and has a high salinity. Currently the waste is turned to landfill, but which is very costly and becomes a major environmental problem.

The Biogas2PEM-FC project is an E.U.-funded project that PowerCell coordinates. Together with partners from Spain, Greece, Sweden and the UK, a complete conversion system has been developed. The project started two years ago and was finished October-end, 2014.

The goal of the project has been to develop a technology to convert waste from the olive oil production, into electricity. A three-part subsystem was developed; the primary step is an anaerobic digestion reaction to produce biogas from the waste, the second step is a reformer to convert the biogas to a hydrogen rich gas (reformate), and a last step -the fuel cell system to make electricity from the reformate gas.

The focus has been the research and development of technologies in the various subsystems and a complete plant has been built and is now demonstrated on an olive farm in Andalucàƒ­a in Spain (see film about the facility).

The project is now in its final stage and a complete pilot plant has been built and tested on the cooperative of San Isidro de Loja, Granada. The solution developed in the project makes use of a waste that is toxic and converts it into electricity and heat that can be used by the olive mill. The plant in Andalucàƒ­a includes the reprocessing of waste from olive oil production, biogas production from waste, reforming of biogas, as well as a fuel cell power generation system from reformate gas.

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