Think Globally: Brimrose AOTF-NIR Spectrometers Demonstrate Olive Oil Production in Israel


Making excellent spectrometers has been part of the Brimrose heritage dating back to the company’s founding. It is exciting to be part of a product that has been in the middle of so many large industries for so long—and continues to get better.

Beginning in 1997, Brimrose pioneered a special design of its real-time, dual beam, high-speed capability for blend uniformity in cooperation with a major pharmaceutical company.

At about the same time, we demonstrated high speed (> 80 vials per minute) analysis of an anesthetic suspension with Astra Zeneca. As early as 1999, we demonstrated the high speed (>300 vials per minute) moisture determination in moving lyophilized vials, achieving SEP<0.1%. This pioneering work was done in collaboration with Dr. Lars Sukowski from Roche Basel, Switzerland, who published this work in his doctoral dissertation.

We have expanded into numerous applications in the pharmaceutical, chemical, agricultural, food, polymer and other industries over the years.

Over the past two years, using the Brimrose Luminar 4030 Analyzer, we worked with olive growers and mills in Israel, in cooperation with a world expert on olive mill optimization to increase the yield of the oil without sacrificing quality. To put the losses due to non-optimal performance in simple terms we can say that for each 10,000 pounds of raw olives processed, about 400 pounds to 1200 pounds of oil are lost in the solid waste. A mill that processes about 10,000,000 pounds per year can increase its revenue by about $140,000 by reducing the lost oil by about 15%.

In today’s world, where revenues from olive oil have dramatically declined due to increased supply from new plantations in Chile, Argentina, Australia, and California, efficiency of mill operation is the key to survival.

The implementation of the Brimrose at-line technology–combined with our speed of analysis and the excellent trending display on the computer screen–has enabled the mills to cut the level of oil in the waste by about half, while maintaining maximum capacity and retaining all of the important qualities of the oil.

Related to this work, a pioneering effort has been going on in Spain, driven by Technilab, our representative there, where a major mill implemented the Brimrose multiplexer technology to monitor several points in the extraction process. This spanned from the crusher, through the malaxer, through the decanter and to the final solid waste. Spectral data from all of these process points is collected in real time and analyzed, providing the mill with real- time feedback as to the efficiency of the process. The result has been that the mill has been able to achieve maximum yields without sacrificing quality.

Realizing that the overall economic viability of olive groves depends not only on improving the yield of the mill and the corresponding revenues, but also on reducing cost and maximizing the oil production in the fruits, we have worked with a leading research institute to develop calibrations for Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium in dried olive leaves. This knowledge is being used to control the fertilization for both timing and quantities. The speed of the NIR analysis allows us to perform such measurements at high frequency and on multiple parts of an orchard. This knowledge results in substantial savings by minimizing the use of fertilizers.

Last, but not least, due to our growing understanding of the relation between irrigation and oil production in the fruit, and because of the increasing cost of irrigation, the need to understand the degree of water stress in leaves led us to develop calibrations for two important parameters. These include the straightforward moisture in the leaves, and Turgor pressure, a measure used by scientists and growers to decide when and how much to irrigate. Turgor pressure measurement is a lengthy, complex and costly operation.

Once again, the speed and immediate availability of the Brimrose technology, which can be taken to the field to analyze leaves on the spot, is opening the door to huge benefits for farmers by reducing wasteful and ill-timed irrigation, while maximizing the oil production within the fruits.