How olive pits could revolutionise the construction industry

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olive pits

In a world increasingly focused on recycling and a circular economy, human ingenuity knows no bounds. A professor from La Rioja has demonstrated that adding olive pits to bricks can enhance their insulation properties, reduce waste, and promote sustainability in the construction industry.

Traditional bricks are primarily composed of clay, sand, water, and various additives to achieve desired properties. However, a new element has been discovered for inclusion: the olive pit. Alejandro San Vicente Navarro, a professor at the Universidad de La Rioja, has shown in his research that ground olive pits improve the insulation properties of bricks. This innovative approach not only contributes to the circular economy by combining sustainability and efficiency but also has the potential to revolutionise the construction industry.

Improved insulation

“Adding ground olive pits to the brick mixture makes the bricks slightly less strong but significantly enhances their insulation capacity, thereby minimising heat loss,” explains Alejandro San Vicente. The pits replace the aggregate in the mixture, a granular building material commonly used to improve strength, durability, and resistance. Research indicates that the optimal replacement level of this material ranges from 5% to 30%, as higher percentages can compromise desired properties. Moreover, using olive pits from olives destined for oil production has a positive impact on the agricultural sector, giving new value to a byproduct of the olive oil industry.

A sustainable solution

By using ‘waste’ from olive oil production, these new bricks not only reduce the environmental impact by limiting the use of traditional raw materials but also contribute to energy savings thanks to their improved insulation value. Transforming an agricultural byproduct into a valuable resource is a development poised to significantly benefit both the construction and agricultural sectors.

Olive pits as jet fuel

Previously, we reported on a pilot project by the Spanish oil company Cepsa, which used sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) made from olive pits and other plant waste for 220 flights from Sevilla Airport. This initiative aimed to prevent the emission of 200 tons of CO2. Since then, Cepsa has begun selling SAF to five of Spain’s largest airports, which collectively handle 60% of the country’s passenger traffic.

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