Olive residues turn to bio-char for water filtration
Olive mill wastewaters filtered with biochar turn to fresh water irrigation
Bio-char retains polyphenols and is added to ruminants feed to reduce enteric emissions

SURFOLY is an innovative and sustainable business model for olive mills, feed manufacturers and farmers-breeders in the mediterranean area.

SURFOLY core concept lies in the production of biochar from olive residues and in the use of this biochar to filter olive mills wastewaters.

SURFOLY uses polyphenols enriched biochar as an additive to ruminants feed for animal wellbeing and reduced enteric emissions.

SURFOLY produces wealth for the mediterranean communities minimizing the environmental impact in the circular economy.




The Sustainable Energy Systems Laboratory (SESLAB) of the Engineering Department of the University of Perugia is an interdepartmental research and development laboratory active in the search for new sustainable technological and management solutions for the circular economy.
Through numerical simulation, design, prototyping and experimentation, SESLAB collaborates with companies and public and private bodies in optimizing energy systems, industrial processes and business models in terms of sustainability, with particular reference to the agro-industry.
The activities related to food quality and technology will be carried out in collaboration with the Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences which has relevant expertise on the study of minor components (especially phenolic compounds and volatiles) of olives and their derivatives and on the valorization of agri-food industry by-products for animal feeding (evaluation of meat and milk modifications) and recovery of bioactive compounds (evaluation of their potential applications in the food industry).



SUstainable Ruminants Feed with OLive pomace and polYphenols enriched charred olive stone

SURFOLY promotes and demonstrates an innovative business and sustainable development model in the circular economy to produce two innovative animal feeds for lactating and fattening small ruminants (sheeps and goats) while supporting mix crop-livestock system and the olive industry in the Mediterranean area. The new feed contains olive oil by-products (pomace, stone and polyphenols from wastewaters) utilised in an innovative way to improve performance and product quality and reduce the overall environmental impact on the life cycle of the combined system olive mill - feed manufacturer - farm.
Pomace from olive mills is either centrifuged to separate the olive stone (three phases process) or dryed (two phase process). Olive stone or dried pomace are then pyrolyzed in an innovative regenerative rotary kiln to obtain bio-char which is used to reduce the COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand) of olive mill wastewaters by absorbing polyphenols, hence reducing significantly the polluting impact of their use as a fertilizer or disposal. The polyphenols enriched char has antioxidant potential and can reduce methane emissions from ruminants therefore it is added to dried pomace (from three phases or two phases) to produce a nutrient mix which is eventually pelletised and used as ingredient in the new formula for sheep and goats. To further increase the mix crop-livestock model introduced by SURFOLY, when small ruminants are allowed to graze in olive orchards, digested biochar is released back as a carbon sink in the fields.
While main ideas and concepts in SURFOLY are not new, their olistic integration in a sustainable business model for farmers and the olive mill and feed manufacturing industries, with net positive environmental benefits for the MENA region, is groundbreaking.


Our main goal

The aim of SURFOLY is to demonstrate the feasibility of alternative feed resources, specifically residues of the olive industry, hence a Mediterranean agricultural production, to be used in feeding ruminants in the same area, namely sheeps and goats. SURFOLY will evaluate the impact of using this alternative feed on animal productivity, well being, and on the quality of the resulting products (meat, milk). It will also optimize the overall environmental impact on the life cycle of the production and use of the innovative feed and the socio-economic consequences for the all the actors in the circular economy, with a specific target in promoting the adoption of the new feed by farmers. SURFOLY builds a sustainable livestock production system thanks to the contribution of all stakeholders (farmers, consumers and regulators).

Our Objective

  • Development of a new alternative feed source.
  • Adoption of a circular economy approach by valorising by-products.
  • Valorisation of local crops to the local conditions for animal feeding.
  • Reduce the cost of production and improve the quality of the final products.
  • Favor mix crop-livestock systems.


Discover more about Surfoly technology and business model.


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