Potential for production of biochar-based fertilizers from olive millwaste in mediterranean basin countries: An initial assessment for Spain, Tunisia, and Greece

Evan A.N. Marks*, Vasiliki Kinigopoulou, Hanene Akrout, Ahmed Amine Azzaz, Charalampos Doulgeris, Salah Jellali, Carlos Rad, Paula Sánchez Zulueta, Evangelos Tziritis, Leila El-Bassi, Camélia Matei Ghimbeu, Mejdi Jeguirim

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Olive mill wastes continue to be a management challenge due to the large volumes produced, particularly due to their toxicity and impacts on the environment. Thermal conversion through pyrolysis or hydrothermal carbonization techniques can detoxify wastes while conserving nutrient contents. In this work, we produced up-to-date data on olive mill waste flows in Spain, Tunisia, and Greece and characterized representative samples in the laboratory. Assays of thermal conversion of olive mill wastewaters and solid wastes were also performed to understand biochar yields and final properties, and the total quantities of nutrients contained were estimated. Of particular note were the quantities of potassium in Tunisian wastewaters, representing 0.6% of the total mass and an annual flow of approximately 5000 t, and in the Spanish solid wastes, an average of 1.7% of the total mass is potassium, representing an annual flow of approximately 23,000 t. Concerning phosphorus, Spanish solid wastes had the highest contents (0.1%), double that of other countries' wastes. Annually, olive mill wastes from the three countries are estimated to contain approximately 35 × 103 tons of potassium and 2.6 × 103 tons of phosphorus. With this resource converted to biochar, each year more than 700 km2 of soils could be enriched in 0.2% carbon with biochar at an application rate of 7 t ha-1.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6081
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Biochar
  • Carbon
  • Hydrochar
  • Mediterranean Basin
  • Nutrients
  • Olive mill solid waste
  • Olive mill wastewater

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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