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Citrus residues for renewable energy production

Energy, Waste
Food processing
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Resource savings: Waste:
100 % fruit residue exploitation; total amount of fruit residue is used as a co-substrate in anaerobic digesting plants
Premises and operation areas:
Production processes
Size of company:
Micro (less than 10), Small (less than 50), Medium (less than 250), Large (more than 250)
Advancement in applying resource efficiency measures:
What is in it for you:
New bio-waste treatment alternative for citrus and other residues boosts biogas production and processes organic matter much more efficiently.
Descriptive information:

Fruit-processing industries are concentrated mainly in southern Europe, and most of them are family businesses or SMEs. They generate vast amounts of fruit residues. Citrus processing, in particular, generates mountains of orange peel which make up some 45-65 % of the original citrus fruit weight. These residues can be processed anaerobically (as a co-substrate) to generate electricity in biogas conversion plants.

The most common strategy for orange juice companies is to create synergies or reach agreements with local waste managers, other orange juice companies, farms or urban facilities with anaerobic digesters (AD) or biogas plants capable of treating citrus residues in co-digestion with the bio-waste they usually treat (sewage sludge, manure, other substrates). Innovations in bio-waste treatment offer promising improvements to this established practice. 

Silvestre et al. (2010) studied sewage sludge anaerobic digestion with orange peel (12 % of volatile solids input) and other organic wastes in a semi-continuous anaerobic system. The biogas production from sewage sludge and orange residues increased 286 % compared with biogas production using only sewage sludge. Additionally, the organic matter removal efficiencies increased from 50 % (sewage sludge anaerobic digestion) to 68 % (sewage sludge co-digestion).

Despite the fact that orange peels provide significant biomethane potential, low pH, low micro-nutrient content and high content of essential oils (if not previously extracted), they cannot be used as the only feedstock (mono-substrate) in an AD plant. The recommended amount is 10-12 % of citrus residue in a plant.

Further Information

Value-added use of fruit residues, European Commision, Best Environmantal Management Practice for the Food and Beverage Manufacturing Sector, June 2015 based on following studies:

  • Calsamiglia S., Ferret A. and Bach A. (2004), Tablas FEDNA de valor nutritivo de Forrajes y
  • Subproductos fibrosos húmedos, Fundación para el Desarrollo de la Nutrición Animal, Madrid, 70
  • Citrech 2015. Available at: http://www.citrech.it/eng/Tech_en.html, accessed April 2015
  • CRES (2014), Anaerobic digestion, Anaerobic Digestion Network, AnDigNet, available at:http://www.cres.gr/andignet/technologies_anaer.htm, accessed November 2014
  • Martín M.A., Fernández R., Serrano A. and Siles J.A. (2013), Semi-continuous anaerobic co-digestion of orange peel waste and residual glycerol derived from biodiesel manufacturing, Waste Management 33(7), 1633-1639
  • Martin M.A., Siles J.A., El Bari H., Chica A.F. and Martín A. (2010), Biomethanization of orange peel waste, Bioresource Technology, 101(23), 8993-8999




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