The aroma of coffee is one of the most refreshing aroma in the world. Imagine smelling it everywhere you go instead of the dangerous fossil fuel byproducts from the vehicles on the street. Surprisingly, the chance for this to happen is pretty big.
Waste coffee grounds, which is you usually found in the bottom of your cups after drinking coffee, is planned to be used for biofuel in the future. London’s buses are the first costumer of this new biofuel, as told by Royal Dutch Shell.
The London bus fuel supply chain is currently adding processed oil from ground coffee waste. The addition of this new biofuel apparently doesn’t require any modification to the engine of the buses, thus immediate action could be done after the biofuel addition was officially announced.
A Lot Of Coffee In London For Everyone
Average London citizen drinks about 2.3 cup of coffee per day, you imagine how much coffee is being consumed by all the people living in the crowded city in a year. in fact, the waste product of coffee consumed by all Londoners in a year can reach up to 200.000 tons annually.
Bio-bean founder, Arthur Kay, who found out about the data wondered what if all those waste coffee ground could give benefit to us, instead of going to the waste. At first, he tried to make the waste as a substitute for firewood.
As time goes, he learned more about the potential use of the ground coffee waste since he knew that there is something in the waste that could support the burning of fire. But bio-bean cannot work on this project alone.
That’s why bio-bean chose to be open about this project to other companies that may support the project. They then worked together with Argent Energy to discover that coffee ground waste can produce coffee oil which can be categorized as biofuel.
From that collaboration, bio-bean and Argent Energy started a collaboration in using the waste ground coffee to produce coffee oil in purpose to make a new form of biofuel. Today they have produced enough coffee oil to supply one bus for a year if used as pure-blend for 20% bio component in B20 fuel.
Bright Future From Dark Coffee
Before the innovation of using ground coffee waste as biofuel source, usually the ground coffee waste is being discarded to the landfill. In this process, instead of being useful to us and the nature, the waste will release harmful greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere.
But by being processed into biofuel, the harms that ground coffee waste may cause is averted into green energy that will help us and the nature to recover from global warming. Reaching this stage, Kay felt pleased that he and his teammates’ hard work for years have given a good result.
“I’m thrilled and proud. A huge amount of research, engineering and business development has gone into this project. It’s now more than three years since I first talked about the idea of creating a biofuel from coffee,” he said.
Actually, biofuel from coffee is not a new thing for some researchers that have studied the bean for years. But he said that among other things, proving that coffee can fuel a bus is the most important thing. Because it shows that not only being a theoretical work, it “demonstrated how it can work in reality”.
He doesn’t want it to stop just in London buses, Kay said that he plans to bring the work of his company to the rest of the world. “The next challenge is to scale-up from a technical demonstration. We think we have the opportunity to take this forward on a larger scale,” Kay said.
The “Invisible” Coffee
Coffee ground waste is something pretty common among us, but none of us actually pay attention to it, let alone its potentials and its impact to the world. “It’s a great example of what can be done when we start to reimagine waste as an untapped resource,” Kay said in a statement.
He said that coffee waste is one of the most neglected resource in the world, simply because it is both too common and yet ‘invisible’. “With coffee, the waste is basically invisible because the coffee shop or factory deal with the waste,” he said.
And in fact, the amount neglected resource is abundant in London, as stated above that annually Londoners can produce up to 200.000 tons of waste coffee ground. However, the 200.000 tons waste remained invisible.
That’s why, once Kay realized about the amount of ‘invisible’ waste, he and his team started to trace it back to the sources. For this project, the needed waste coffee ground is easily collected by bio-bean from many places by working together with local waste collection companies.
By working together with those companies, bio-bean can minimize the energy and money needed by all sides included. “At bio-bean we work with waste collection companies to collect those used grounds from factories, local cafes, busy train stations, offices and chains like Costa Coffee,” he said.
No Such Thing As Waste
Being able to create an eco-friendly biofuel from ground coffee waste, Arthur Kay said that it is not the whole message he wants to tell the world. “The biofuel is more of a technical demonstration of what can be done in the future,” he said in an interview.
The point he wanted to say to the world is that by paying more attention to our surrounding, we may find something useful that nobody has ever thought of using it. “Our message is that there’s no such thing as waste: it’s just resources that are in the wrong place,” he said.
Now, from simply providing coffee ground to replace firewood for fire, he dreams of making international debut for his company. “Initially, we want to collect more from around the UK, but then we would like to look overseas to Europe and to the USA,” said Kay.
“There is huge potential for this project to expand in the U.S., which drinks the most coffee on the planet, 400 million cups of per day,” bio-bean stated in a written statement to CNN.