Waste coffee grounds offer new source of biodiesel fuel

December 10, 2008

Researchers in Nevada are reporting that waste coffee grounds can provide a cheap, abundant, and environmentally friendly source of biodiesel fuel for powering cars and trucks. Their study has been published online in the American Chemical Society's (ACS) Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.

In the new study, Mano Misra, Susanta Mohapatra, and Narasimharao Kondamudi note that the major barrier to wider use of biodiesel fuel is lack of a low-cost, high quality source, or feedstock, for producing that new energy source. Spent coffee grounds contain between 11 and 20 percent oil by weight. That's about as much as traditional biodiesel feedstocks such as rapeseed, palm, and soybean oil.

Growers produce more than 16 billion pounds of coffee around the world each year. The used or "spent" grounds remaining from production of espresso, cappuccino, and plain old-fashioned cups of java, often wind up in the trash or find use as soil conditioner. The scientists estimated, however, that spent coffee grounds can potentially add 340 million gallons of biodiesel to the world's fuel supply.

To verify it, the scientists collected spent coffee grounds from a multinational coffeehouse chain and separated the oil. They then used an inexpensive process to convert 100 percent of the oil into biodiesel.

The resulting coffee-based fuel -- which actually smells like java -- had a major advantage in being more stable than traditional biodiesel due to coffee's high antioxidant content, the researchers say. Solids left over from the conversion can be converted to ethanol or used as compost, the report notes. The scientists estimate that the process could make a profit of more than $8 million a year in the U.S. alone. They plan to develop a small pilot plant to produce and test the experimental fuel within the next six to eight months.

Biodiesel is a growing market. Estimates suggest that annual global production of biodiesel will hit the 3 billion gallon mark by 2010. The fuel can be made from soybean oil, palm oil, peanut oil, and other vegetable oils; animal fat; and even cooking oil recycled from restaurant French fry makers. Biodiesel also can be added to regular diesel fuel. It also can be a stand-alone fuel, used by itself as an alternative fuel for diesel engines.
-end-
*The research in this press release is from a copyrighted publication, and stories must credit the journal by name or the American Chemical Society.

News media may obtain a full text of this report ("Spent Coffee Grounds as a Versatile Source of Green Energy") in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry by contacting Michael Bernstein.

Contact:
Mano Misra, Ph.D.
Professor
Director, Center of Materials Reliability
University of Nevada-Reno
Reno, Nevada 89557-0042
Phone: 775-784-1603
Fax: 775-784-4949
E-mail: misra@unr.edu

The American Chemical Society--the world's largest scientific society--is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio. The ACS Publications Division currently publishes 35 leading peer-reviewed journals in the chemical and related sciences, including the flagship Journal of the American Chemical Society, as well as Chemical & Engineering News, the Society's weekly news magazine.

American Chemical Society

Related Biodiesel Articles from Brightsurf:

Making biodiesel from dirty old cooking oil just got way easier
Researchers develop a new sponge-like catalyst that is so tough it can make biodiesel from low-grade ingredients containing up to 50% contaminants.

Success in promoting plant growth for biodiesel
Scientists of Waseda University in Japan succeeded in promoting plant growth and increasing seed yield by heterologous expression of protein from Arabidopsis (artificially modified high-speed motor protein) in Camelina sativa, which is expected as a useful plant for biodiesel.

Lithium ion battery waste used in biodiesel production from discarded vegetable oil
Brazilian researchers demonstrated a new chemical approach for producing biodiesel from domestic cooking oil waste by using hydroxide lithium mixed with either sodium hydroxides or potassium hydroxides as catalysts.

Eco-friendly biodiesel from palm oil?
Vegetable oil biofuels are increasingly used as an alternative to fossil fuels despite the growing controversy regarding their sustainability.

Towards sustainability -- from a by-product of the biodiesel industry to a valuable chemical
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (Taiwan Tech) develop a cheap and efficient copper-based catalyst that can be used to convert glycerol, one of the main by-products of the biodiesel industry, into a valuable compound called dihydroxyacetone.

Efficiently producing fatty acids and biofuels from glucose
Researchers have presented a new strategy for efficiently producing fatty acids and biofuels that can transform glucose and oleaginous microorganisms into microbial diesel fuel, with one-step direct fermentative production.

Using E. coli to create bioproducts, like biodiesel, in a cost-effective manner
LSU mechanical engineering graduate student Tatiana Mello of Piracicaba, Brazil, is currently working on genetically engineering and optimizing E. coli bacteria to produce bioproducts, like biodiesel, in a cost-effective manner.

Metal-free catalyst extends the range of ester synthesis
A Japanese research team at Nagoya University created a versatile, metal-free catalyst for trans-esterification.

Researchers produce biofuel for conventional diesel engines
In accordance with an EU directive, conventional automotive diesel is supplemented with seven percent biodiesel.

New breakthrough makes it easier to turn old coffee waste into cleaner biofuels
Future Americano, cappuccino and latte drinkers could help produce the raw material for a greener biofuel that would reduce our reliance on diesel from fossil fuels.

Read More: Biodiesel News and Biodiesel Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.