A company called Bio-bean has found a way to help combat London’s pollution problem, through the creation of a fuel made out of the waste from ground coffee beans.
Bio-bean functions by collecting the coffee waste from London’s high street coffee shops and then converts the waste into liquid fuel. The waste is collected by a waste management company, who charges a fee that hovers around 70% less a coffee shop would usually pay to have it disposed of.
The company uses a patented technique to extract oil from the coffee grounds, through a process known as “hexane extraction”. Hexane extraction works by evaporating the coffee waste and refining 15-20% of the hexane into an oil. The remaining waste is turned into biomass pellets which then are used to fuel wood burners.
The company’s owner, Arthur Kay, emphasizes how important diverse fuel options will be in the future.
“We are going through a period of energy divergence where we are moving from a fossil-fuel based society to one that is increasingly diversified. Biofuel will be crucial to that,” said Kay. “In the UK, people consume 500,000 tons of coffee each year, and if we could use all of it we could power a city such as Manchester.”
Many countries and cities around the world are recognizing the benefits of biofuel use, as biofuel can be anything from wood pellets to sewage to coffee grinds. Bio-bean is planning the unveiling of a bus soon which would run on the coffee bean waste. If the technology ends up being viable, a huge reduction in operating costs for major cities and their buses could be possible.