Coffee Biofuel Might Become The Next Clean Gasoline – A Much Cleaner Air To Breathe
Last November, London started an initiative to use fuel from coffee waste and tested it out on the Iconic Red Buses. It was a movement to look for clean fuel alternatives and to reverse the adverse effects of pollution in the country.
Statistics show that yearly, the UK consumes 55 million coffee cups a day. Out of that number comes 500,000 tons of coffee waste.
Previous university studies showed that coffee waste could pose as an alternative to traditional fuel. Mano Misra, an engineering professor at the University of Nevada-Reno, noticed particles and oil which settled at the top of the cold coffee. He later gathered a few students to conduct experiments to find out the oil content in coffee grounds.
The results of the test showed that depending on the type of coffee beans; coffee grounds have 15 percent oil on average. One of the student researchers, Narasimharao Kondamudi, said that they used the process of hexane extraction to obtain the oil then employed standard transesterification to turn it into fuel.
Compared to traditional biodiesel, the oil from coffee waste is more stable because of its high antioxidant levels. The new crude could also break into the market and produce an annual profit of $8 million in the US.
In a similar study from Lancaster University, they developed an alternative to the hexane method to reduce chemical waste. By using methanol and a catalyst, they were able to get oil from the coffee waste in as fast as 10 minutes. The researchers estimate that the process could yield 720,000 tons of biodiesel each year.
In 2016, all related studies about the green innovation came to life when University College London (UCL) collaborated with Arthur Kay, an alumnus of the institution and the founder-CEO of bio-bean. The company was the first to adopt the recycling of coffee waste to make biofuel and biochemicals.
Kay’s idea of creating bio-bean stemmed from his case study, which focused on coffee shops, during his architecture studies at UCL. He later thought of “waste-to-energy” systems, which caused him to come up with the idea of bio-bean.
Adopting coffee biofuel as a new energy source could also decrease mortality rates. Statistics show that around 9,000 people die each year in London because of prolonged exposure to polluted air.
Aside from an attempt to clean the planet’s air, bio-bean also aims to solve the global energy crisis. Because coffee is available everywhere, it could become the answer to the depletion of natural resources due to demand increase.