Making Fuel From Coffee Grounds
Your morning coffee gets you going in the morning by infusing your body with caffeine, but coffee could soon be fueling your vehicle too! Countries like Brazil, Spain, and Portugal have been turning coffee grounds into biodiesel fuel for several years now with great success.
The supply of coffee grounds is not a problem considering that the average number of cups of coffee poured worldwide per day is around 1.4 billion. It's estimated that just over 300 million gallons of biodiesel could be produced using the used coffee grounds from homes, restaurants, and coffee shops worldwide. Pretty amazing concept isn't it?
The grounds, after the coffee oil has been removed, can then be used as fertilizer in gardens or fields, fuel pellets, or used in ethanol production. It's an environmentally friendly concept since every part of the spent coffee grounds are being used!
Benefits of Biodiesel Fuel From Coffee Grounds
· Renewable energy source – coffee beans to coffee to grounds to oil to one of several ways to use the "waste"
· Clean energy source
· Lots of it – no shortage of coffee grounds across the world
· Inexpensive to produce the biodiesel fuel
· Environmentally friendly
How It Works
Without getting extremely technical about the process used to extract coffee oil from coffee grounds, here is how it's accomplished.
The first step is similar to brewing or making coffee. An organic solvent such as ether, dichloromethane, or hexane is poured over the
spent coffee grounds. This process dissolves remaining oils in the grounds. That's not all that's extracted however.
Next, they "brewed" the grounds again in order to separate the grounds from the extracted oil and solvent. The solvent, through yet another process, is evaporated off so that it can be used again another time. Free fatty acids are also removed so the oil can effectively be converted to useable biodiesel fuel.
The last step gets very technical and is called tranesterifying the coffee oil so it can then be converted into a biodiesel fuel that can be used in vehicles or machinery.
Interesting Facts About Making Fuel From Coffee
· Brazil is experimenting with using defective coffee beans or lesser quality coffee beans for conversion into bio fuel – they're working toward making this happen commercially since it has worked in a laboratory setting
· Robusta and arabica coffee beans contain the most oil and are the best for this process
· Oil from coffee grounds is a stable compound and will stay viable for a good amount of time
· Interestingly, the defective or lower quality beans yield a higher amount of oil than healthy beans or coffee grounds
This process of turning what would have otherwise been a waste product into something that could fuel vehicles and machinery is hopefully technology we will see in the future. It's always exciting to see what is coming to the forefront as environmentally friendly ideas are explored and tested.