Fancy a Car-puccino? Biofuel created using ground coffee beans

19/06/2014

Ever thought about using coffee to run your car instead of petrol?

In the future this aromatic brown liquid may be the only way to refuel your car. Scientists claim that the biofuel made from waste coffee ground could power our vehicles.

Leftover grounds generated by the average coffee shop (about 10kg) can produce around two litres of the biofuel.

Scientists believe that if this was to be scaled up nationally, popluar high street coffee shops could be rivalling oil giants around the world.

Researchers at the University of Bath said waste coffee grounds could be a sustainable fuel source for powering vehicles.

The researchers have made biofuel from ground coffee produced in 20 different regions, including caffeinated and decaffeinated forms of the brown liquid.

The study found that different types of coffee, including Robusta and Arabica, have the right physical properties for use as fuel and have a reasonably uniform composition.

That means all coffee waste could be a viable way of producing biodiesel.

The scientists explained that the way the coffee would work as biodiesel is by extracting the oil from the coffee ground by soaking them in an organic solvent before using a special process to transform them into biodiesel.

The benefits of Biodiesel 

  • Biodiesel is an alternative fuel to conventional or ‘fossil’ diesel.
  • It is a product from vegetable oil, animal oil and fats and waste cooking oil.
  • The process used to convert these oils to biodiesel is called trans- esterification – a reaction between the oil and alcohol.
  • Biodiesel is currently made from waste vegetable oil from restaurants and chip shops, for example.
  • When using agricultural oil, the process can be expensive, but if the oil is sourced for free it can rival other, traditional fuel choices.
  • Scientists are constantly looking for alternative fuels that are cheaper and more sustainable than conventional fuel.

Scientists believe that coffee biodiesel that coffee shops could be produced on a small scale to fuel the vehicles used for deliveries.

Those same delivery vehicles could then be used to collect waste coffee grounds and take them to a central biodiesel production facility to be processed.

Rhodri Jenkins, a PhD student in sustainable chemical technologies said: “We estimate that a small coffee shop would produce around 22lbs (10kg) of coffee waste per day, which could be used to produce around two litres of biofuel”

“There is also a large amount of waste produced by the coffee bean roasting industry, with defective beans being thrown away. If scaled up, we think coffee biodiesel has great potential as a sustainable fuel source.”

AA president Edmund King said: “It lends a whole new meaning to a fill-up. Should we be asking for an Ameri-car-no or a Car-puccino? Perhaps our motorways will become Espresso-ways – with special filter lanes. And instead of petrol and diesel fumes would our roads be smelling of roasted Columbian or Kenyan blends?”

“We normally advocate drivers having two cups of coffee themselves to stay alert. This is a  novel twist. Though if it takes off  I doubt filling stations will be offering motorists a bottomless cup.”

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