How to make ecofuel from coffee

Chemist, Business Development Manager at Innovative Fuel Solutions
How to make ecofuel from coffee

Coffee keeps us awake. It energizes us for the entire day. However, coffee may energize not only a human, but a car as well.

The demand for coffee among Ukrainians has significantly increased over the recent years. Сoffee shops on the ground floors are being opened throughout the country every day. They attract people by the variety of coffee beverages. We drink our favorite beverage, whose taste and aroma are of prime importance for us, but we nearly never pay attention to the accompanying processes related to coffee making.

Have you ever wondered how huge is the amount of waste from the used beans? After all, our coffee beverages are only one tenth that of coffee beans. The greater quantity of it is insoluble in water, cannot be turned into the beverage and is ignored. To put it simply, much of the waste is thrown into the dustbin, while it may be reused. Sure thing, you might have heard about the scrubs from used coffee grounds, coffee fertilizers, but most of the people actually have never thought of organic and useful ways to use this type of waste. Waste coffee grounds are of great potential, especially in Ukraine, where we do not have many resources and usually exploit them ruthlessly. However, there are some good news too, researchers think for us and have already discovered a load of interesting and useful ways to use remains of coffee.

What is biodiesel from coffee?

Coffee keeps us awake. It energizes us for the entire day. However, coffee may energize not only a human, but a car as well. Coffee as a fuel for a car? Exactly. This is now reality. But it shall be noted that you should not fill the gasoline tank with a cup of delicious espresso. This will not help you to drive extra kilometers, instead this will damage your car. Researchers have developed a more reliable way to turn coffee into a fuel.

In addition to water-soluble components, сoffee beans contain a huge amount of other substances. Thus, they contain coffee oil, which is perfect for the production of alternative environmentally sound biodiesel fuel. It is usually produced from vegetable oil, for instance from soybean oil, canola oil or rapeseed oil. In these latter days researchers are taking note of coffee waste, i.e. used coffee grounds, owing largely to the fact that this waste contains some 10-25% of vegetable oil, which may be effectively used and simply recycled into the diesel fuel.

How to make fuel from coffee?

Waste coffee grounds is the material from which coffee oil shall first be extracted. This process is rather simple and is not energetically costly. Its essence lies in oil extraction from coffee grounds by using solvents. The study shows that by doing so approximately a total of 8-20% of oil from the initial dry mass may be obtained. At first sight this is not so much, but nevertheless this quantity is justified from the technical perspective. Coffee oil is not the ready-to-use biodiesel fuel. The next in turn and key stage is chemical transformation of coffee oil into finished biodiesel fuel. Some researchers propose to use more simple and single-staged process to get biodiesel fuel from coffee waste.

Quality of biodiesel fuel from coffee

May this biodiesel fuel be used as the full-fledged fuel? Yes, of course, and here is why. The chemical composition of biodiesel fuel plays a pivotal role, Its components offer us real prospects to get high-quality biodiesel fuel. Indeed, in addition to the composition of biodiesel fuel, researchers have also checked other important indicators such as usual and free glycerol content, viscosity-to-density ratio, oxidation stability, acid-degree value, etc. On the top of that, this type of fuel was already tested on real engines.

As opposed to diesel fuel of petroleum origin, biodiesel fuel produces twice as little carbonic oxide (CO), lower hydrocarbon emissions that were not burnt inside the engine. This means that, at the very least, the use of such fuel is interesting from an environmental perspective.

Economics of biodiesel fuel from waste coffee grounds

In sober fact, coffee market is large. Waste coffee grounds may constitute up to 90% of the used coffee beans. Moreover, from an economic perspective the main advantage of this manufacture is nearly free raw material, since it is the waste that are disposed by own efforts. On the other hand, waste may be easily converted into ecofuel.

Thus, chain of coffee shops in London have already launched delivery of coffee waste to special factory, that recycles it into biodiesel fuel. The enterprise may recycle 50,000 tons of coffee waste a year, which is about a quarter of all annual coffee waste from the city. Public transport of the British capital is gradually being switched to В20 biofuel, 20% of which is biodiesel. Moreover, in the near future the share of biofuel is expected to be increased. Renowned top company of energy sector Shell believes that this type of fuel holds great promise for the future. Company’s experts reported that waste coffee grounds may help to fuel around a third of the London bus network.

Prospects

Much has already been done in relation to the study of biodiesel production technology from used coffee beans. Improved and economically feasible technologies will definitely appear. Obviously, no one doubts that it is exceedingly profitable to use this type of fuel for the transportation means. And perhaps, at some future date, while drinking a cup of coffee we will see that some portion of this coffee is used to produce fuel for our cars.



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