QOOT Cluster, the first agri-food innovation cluster in Lebanon, is known for its significant role in facilitating cooperation between academia and industry, particularly in agribusiness. One of its recent projects was the optimization of the lavender distillation process by Dr. Joelle Nader from the Lebanese American University and Mr. Gilbert Khoury, CEO of Bioland, in collaboration with QOOT Cluster.
Steam Distillation for the Production of Lavender Essential Oil
Lebanon has witnessed considerable growth in the sector of Essential Oils production; the export sales volumes has reached a total of 10 million USD in 2022, with a rough 10% of compound annual growth over the last 5 years, in alignment with the global trend. Lavender essential oil is the most used essential oil in the world today because of its powerful antioxidant, antimicrobial, sedative, calming and anti-depressive properties. The most common way to extract lavender essential oil is steam distillation. This process is very important to determine the quality of essential oil because the temperature and pressure that the flowers are exposed to during distillation can alter the molecules’ structure and affect the final scent and chemical constituents of the final product.
Optimization of the Lavender Distillation Process
The lavender distillation process optimization involved conducting 30 trials to determine the best conditions for a better yield and product quality. This endeavour was of critical importance to the sector as it defined the optimal parameters for the distillation process, including temperature, pressure, and harvesting time. At a technical level, the activity aimed to achieve the best yield and product quality, while at the business level, it aimed to facilitate the easier application of contract farming.
“The collaboration between Bioland and the Lebanese American University allowed for R&D and trials that led to a better oil yield. The partnership was crucial in defining the importance of each parameter, which resulted in the optimal lavender distillation process.”Dr. Joelle Nader
The Significance of Academia/Industry Partnerships
In a recent interview, Dr. Joelle Nader and Mr. Gilbert Khoury highlighted the significance of academia/industry partnerships, with QOOT Cluster playing a pivotal role in linking both parties. The collaboration between Bioland and the Lebanese American University allowed for R&D and trials that led to a better oil yield. The partnership was crucial in defining the importance of each parameter, which resulted in the optimal lavender distillation process.
Academia and industry partnerships have become increasingly important in recent years as they provide a platform for knowledge exchange, which can be beneficial for all parties involved. Through such collaborations, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that lack resources for R&D can be
connected to universities that are developing academic curriculums. Clusters like QOOT can play a critical role in linking SMEs and universities, thus supporting the development of innovative solutions that meet industry needs.
Continuous Improvement for Essential Oils Production
This activity is just the beginning of a long road in the optimization of distillation processes. As every plant material has a unique optimization scheme and process, further collaboration between academia and industry will be essential in discovering the best yield and product quality. The possibility of adapting new worldwide techniques and technologies for distillation will only be possible through continued cooperation.
“This activity is just the beginning of a long road in the optimization of distillation processes…The possibility of adapting new worldwide techniques and technologies for distillation will only be possible through continued cooperation.”Mr. Gilbert Khoury
Linking Academia and Industry Needs
In conclusion, the partnership between Bioland and the Lebanese American University with the support of QOOT Cluster is an excellent example of the significance of academia/industry partnerships. The collaboration allowed for R&D and trials, which led to the optimization of the lavender distillation process, providing a better yield and product quality. Clusters like QOOT play a crucial role in linking academia and industry and supporting the development of innovative solutions that meet industry needs.