Anyone for coffee

Coffee Grounds and Biofuel

Anyone for coffee? This has to be one of the first questions that grown ups ask each other when they get up in the morning. Most people around the world like to kick start their day with a hot cup of this brewed beverage.

But not very far into the future, we might have another kind of coffee fans – Cars!

Scientists at University of Bath, United Kingdom have done the research which claims that car fuel can be made out from the leftover coffee grounds!

What are coffee grounds?

Coffee beans are grounded into a coarse powder. This powder is then brewed to make coffee. The leftover ground coffee is known as the coffee grounds.

Coffee beans and coffee grounds
Image Credit: Flickr User Thomas, via CC

Coffee beans are high in nitrogen, calcium, magnesium, potassium and other trace minerals. The basis of the research is that the composition and physical properties of coffee bean are such that it can be used as a fuel. During the research, 2 litres of biofuel were produced from around 10 kgs of coffee grounds.

Have you heard of Biodiesel? Biodiesel is made from waste or unwanted vegetable/animal oil and fats. The process called transesterification is used to convert these oils to biodiesel. Biodiesel is a fantastic replacement for the fossil fuel that takes millions of years in making. Biodiesel can also be produced from coffee. For this, first oil is extracted from the coffee grounds. This oil when mixed with organic solvents, with the help of special process can turn into biodiesel.

How about coffee shops converting their own waste into biofuel to run their delivery trucks?  Or imagine if this coffee waste is assimilated across coffee shops around the world, processed at large scale and converted into fuel, what a big leap it would be towards saving our Earth!

Four years ago, coffee run car Car-puccino was built by a team from the BBC1 science programme ‘Bang Goes The Theory’. The cost of running the car was exorbitant and thus, the car-puccino ended up in a museum. Hopefully this time around scientists will find a scalable, cheaper way of converting coffee to fuel. If this happens, then guess what will be a good place for you to hang out with your car?  A coffee shop!

Do you know coffee grounds are helpful to us in many other ways?

– Coffee grounds when mixed in the garden soil can provide plants many nutrients.
– Old dried coffee grounds are wonderful insect repellents because of their strong smell.
– Want to dye paper, cloth or easter eggs light brown? Dip them in a solution of coffee grounds and viola!

Feature Image Credit: Flickr User epsos via CC

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