OLIVE-SOUND is a research project under the Horizon 2020 “Fast Track to Innovation” (FTI) programme. The project concerns to the virgin olive oil, a food commodity of high strategic economic importance for the Europe Union, and focuses on the extraction process: it aims to reduce time and energy consumption, and to increase the quality of final product.

The consortium responsible to develop the project comprises five partners from three different European countries: Italy, Spain and France. PIERALISI is the world leader in the production and sale of machinery for processing olives. CEDTRAT Technologies SA is a high-tech SME experienced in designing and manufacturing innovative sonic and ultrasonic transducers and associated electronics. The UNIVERSITY OF BARI and its Interdisciplinary Medical Department have extensive research experience in the implementation of emerging technologies in the olive oil sector. CTIC CITA, a union of innovation and technology centers that offers specialized, technologically advanced services to food, and has considerable experience in managing national and European projects. ALMAZARA DEL EBRO is a agricoltural cooperative of olive oil producers based in Navarra (Spain) that produces high quality extra virgin olive oil using traditional and organic methods.

World consumption of olive oil increased by 20% in the last 20 years driven by the increasing awareness around the healthfulness of the Mediterranean Diet. EU quality strategy for olive oil indicates the need for improved product quality and environmental impact of the olive oil production. OLIVE-SOUND project aims to represent a solution to increase the extraction yield while improving the quality of the extracted oil. The key step in the extraction process of olive oil is the malaxation: it largely affects extraction yield and quality of the oil. In modern olive oil mills, both crushing and oil separation are continuous processes while malaxation is the only batch step and the bottleneck of whole process; this discontinuity reduces production capacity and, consequently, increases production costs. The project aims to introduce in the market a novel reactor that replaces the traditional step of malaxation by the direct application of ultrasounds to the olive paste. The OLIVE-SOUND expectation is to reduce the process time by 70% compared with the traditional system, make the process continuous, without compromising the final product quality, and to increase the yield by about 5-6 %, reducing energetic consumption and production costs. Due to the shorter extraction time and the release of antioxidant compounds promoted by US waves, the extracted oil is superior in terms of both sensorial and nutritional quality. Main goals of the project, with an expected duration of 24 months, are the optimization of ultrasound parameters to achieve maximum extraction efficiency, the experimentation of a first small-scale prototype followed by a large-scale prototype and the development of a commercial plan to introduce the OLIVE-SOUND reactor in the market.