Biocompounds recovery from olive mill wastewater by liquid-liquid extraction and integration with Fenton’s process for water reuse


The olive mill wastewaters obtained from two different processes, press extraction olive mill wastewater (POMW) from Portugal and two-phase system olive mill wastewater (2POMW) from Spain, were treated to recover phenolic compounds and water sequentially, by the integration of liquid-liquid extraction with Fenton’s processes. From the recovered fractions, squalene, oleic acid, tyrosol, syringic acid, and p-coumaric acid were identified, and oleic acid appears in a higher concentration for 2POMW wastewater for all used solvents compared to POMW samples. Recovered fractions presented higher antioxidant activity, but remained antioxidants were found in the residual water. The wastewaters coming from a two-phase extraction method (2POMW) present higher phytotoxicity according to germination index, but the application of Fenton’s process was able to improve the water quality to be re-used since an increase on the water biodegradability (BOD5/COD) and toxicity reduction were achieved.

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Data availability

All data generated or analysed during this study are included in this published article and its supplementary information files.


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M.E.M. Braga acknowledges FCT for the post-doctoral fellowship SFRH/BPD/101048/2014.


This work was financially supported by COMPETE 2020, Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT, Portugal), through the FCT-MEC (PEst-C/EQB/UI0102/2013), the Programa de Atividades Conjuntas (PAC), the project “MultiBiorefinery—Multi-purpose strategies for broadband agro-forest and fisheries by-products: a step forward for a truly integrated biorefinery (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-016403)” and “Development of a sludge free Fenton integrated treatment methodology for olive mill wastewaters: a water recovery—SERENA” (POCI-01-0247-FEDER-033193). M.E.M. Braga acknowledges FCT for the scholarships SFRH/BPD/101048/2014.

The authors and institution make part of the Network of Higher Education Institutions to Safeguard the Mediterranean Diet “Rede de Instituições de Ensino Superior para a Salvaguarda da Dieta Mediterrânica (RIESDM)”.

Author information




MEMB and RCM conceived the idea of developing the integration of liquid-liquid extraction with Fenton’s processes to recover phenolic compounds and water sequentially. DM carried out the analyses oriented and supervised by MEMB and RCM during her master degree course. MEMB was responsible for liquid-liquid extractions and obtained fractions characterization, and RCM was responsible for the Fenton process and effluent characterization. DM, RCM and MEMB wrote the manuscript that was reviewed and edited by the co-authors. All authors contributed to the analysis and interpretation of the results and have read and approved the final version.

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Correspondence to Rui C. Martins or Mara E. M. Braga.

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Martins, D., Martins, R.C. & Braga, M.E.M. Biocompounds recovery from olive mill wastewater by liquid-liquid extraction and integration with Fenton’s process for water reuse. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2021).

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  • Antioxidants
  • Phenolic compounds
  • Olive mill wastewater
  • Liquid-liquid extraction
  • Fenton’s process
  • Water reuse