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Sustainable recovery of phenolic antioxidants from real olive vegetation water with natural hydrophobic eutectic solvents and terpenoids

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Olive oil production leads to the generation of olive mill wastewater (OMWW). Due to the presence of phenolic compounds, they are difficult to process, but they represent a source of high-added value chemicals since they have antioxidant and therapeutic properties. This work has studied the extraction of phenolic compounds from a type of OMWW, olive vegetation water, which presents these compounds in a more diluted dosage than in other studied to date, to revalue this waste stream. A real olive vegetation water from a Spanish olive oil producer was used, and liquid-liquid extraction was applied. Terpenoids and terpene-based hydrophobic eutectic solvents were systematically used to extract phenolic compounds following the concentrations of tyrosol, catechol, caffeic acid, and total phenolic content. By molecular simulation with the COSMO-RS method, 4 terpenoids, and 2 eutectic solvents were selected and compared with 2 conventional solvents. The Solvent/Feed ratio in the extraction of phenolic compounds was studied, showing that the solvents with the highest extraction results were geraniol, eucalyptol, and eutectic solvent menthol + camphor, which outperformed conventional solvents methyl isobutyl ketone and diisopropyl ether. Menthol + camphor gave total phenol extraction yields of 88.73% at a Solvent/Feed ratio in volume of 0.50, surpassing all solvents tested. A solvent reuse and regeneration process was applied by back-extraction of the 4 solvents: FTIR results showed the stability of the solvents while maintaining yields in the solvent reuse process. The phenolic compounds could be concentrated in the alkaline phase to factors up to 49.3 to the initial concentration in olive vegetation water. The alkaline phases were neutralized to obtain a precipitate with a caffeic acid content of up to 26 % wt%, and a tyrosol-rich supernatant with a concentration of up to 6.54 g/L. This work proposes a process using natural solvents to extract phenolic compounds from olive vegetation water.
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