Coffee power!

Now it’s no secret that I drink a lot of coffee. I mean a lot of coffee. I don’t even want to think how many kilos of used coffee grounds I’ve thrown into the bin or flushed down the drain over the years. Well it looks like all of those grounds could have been more useful than I realised!

A team at the University of Nevada have been working on turning used coffee grounds into biodiesel. Given how many coffee grounds are thrown away across the world on a daily basis, just think about how wasteful that is, if all of those grounds could be used. What’s more, wouldn’t busy city streets be a lot nicer if the exhaust fumes smelled of coffee! It’s true that in Brazil, work has been done to turn sub-standard coffee beans into biofuel, which is a similar process. As far as I can tell though, no one’s ever tried doing this with used coffee grounds before.

It’s pretty simple, really. Despite the oils that get extracted into your daily dark and caffeinated beverage, quite a few are left behind in the grounds. You can then extract these oils and transesterify them to make biodiesel. It works in exactly the same way as other biodiesel production, except we don’t need to monopolise third world farmland to make it. We’re making it out of something we’re already throwing away.

A heads up goes to Will and Beyond for posting about this. If you want to know more, have a good read of his post which says everything you need to know!

About Invader Xan

Molecular astrophysicist, usually found writing frenziedly, staring at the sky, or drinking mojitos.
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4 Responses to Coffee power!

  1. invaderxan says:

    I must admit it surprised me actually, but apparently that’s the effect of transesterification.
    It surprised me even more to learn that a diesel engine can be modified slightly to run on regular cooking oil!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ooo, a mention, I am honored. And wow, I didn’t realize that biodiesel and diesel were interchangable. It makes sense, but I had always assumed that you needed a special engine.

  3. invaderxan says:

    Oh, absolutely!
    You just need to be prepared to have a garage full of oil drums. :)
    It’s useful too that biodiesel is completely interchangeable with regular diesel…

  4. My ex-labmate has a diesel VW Beetle. She wants to start using biodiesel once her warranty runs out. I think it’s a pretty cool idea, given how easy biodiesel is to make. :)

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