Now, Your Car Can Run On Coffee

A cup of coffee can perk you up and keep you going during a long day but did you ever think that it could fuel up your car as well? According to the researchers from the Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies at University of Bath, waste coffee grinds could be turned into a sustainable fuel to power vehicles. Oil can be extracted from coffee grounds by soaking them in an organic solvent, before being chemically transformed into biodiesel via a process called ’transesterification’,

As a part of their study, researchers were able to make biofuel from ground coffee which was produced in 20 different geographic regions including various varieties of coffee. Both both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffees were used along with the popular Robusta and Arabica varieties. The research concluded that though coffee biodiesel is only a miniscule part of the entire energy mix, yet it’s interesting to know that it can easily be produced on a small scale by coffee shops. This can help such coffee shops to fuel their own delivery vehicles.

“We estimate that a small coffee shop would produce around 10kg of coffee waste per day, which could be used to produce around 2 liters 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,” said Rhodri Jenkins, a PHD student in Sustainable Chemical Technologies

Dr. Chris Chuck from the Department of Chemical Engineering expressed similar views on the huge amount of coffee that is produced every year and how there is also a lot of coffee waste that goes unused.


“Around 8 million tonnes of coffee is produced globally each year and ground waste coffee contains up to 20 per cent oil per unit weight, This oil also has similar properties to current feedstocks used to make biofuels. But, while those are cultivated specifically to produce fuel, spent coffee grounds are waste. Using these, there’s a real potential to produce a truly sustainable second-generation biofuel,” Chuck said.

The research found that there was a reasonably standard composition and little variation in the relevant physical properties of the fuels, irrespective of the source. This means that all waste coffee grounds are a viable feedstock for producing biodiesel. “The yields and properties of biodiesel can differ depending on the growth conditions of current biodiesel feedstocks, sometimes causing them to fall out of specification, The uniformity across the board for the coffee biodiesel fuel is good news for biofuel producers and users ” Chuck added.

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