For every gallon of olive oil produced, about 38 pounds of pomace—skins, pulp and pits—remain.
U.S. Department of Agriculture agricultural engineer Rebecca Milczarek, who's based in Albany, Calif., is leading an effort with olive growers and processors to find new uses for the left-overs, according to a news release.
One option already being investigated is drying the material quickly on-site.
That would significantly reduce the costs to transport it to processing plants, where it could be converted into new foods, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics or other products.
Milczarek and her group are examining the dynamics of drying pomace, including the time it would take.
In preliminary experiments, they used a combination of microwave and convention ovens to dry small batches.
The drying rates for the four internal temperatures studied, 104 degrees, 122 degrees, 140 degrees and 158 degrees Fahrenheit, were about 28 percent lower than previously reported by other scientists.
That means more time is needed to dry the pomace.
For commercial drying, the pomace could be run through a drying tunnel on a conveyor.