Coffee grounds are known for being a perfect natural fertilizer. But, the great properties of coffee grounds extend way beyond just a simple addition to the back yard. Recently, research and various other industries have focused on finding other green applications, keeping coffee grounds away from waste disposal sites. We have already mentioned how coffee grounds can be used to make jeans, or to capture carbon.
But there is another, more exciting application- energy production. We have also discussed the scientific principle of converting coffee grounds into energy. Now it is time to see the practical application of it.
A London-based start up, called Bio-Bean, has set the ambitious goal to convert 50,000 tonnes of coffee grounds into carbon neutral biomass on annual basis. Here is how they plan to do it.
The story began not too long ago, in 2014, when Bio-Bean was born. Partially funded with money received from the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, and a great deal of private investments, Bio-Bean initiated UK-wide coffee ground collection service. Shortly after, they already had their own recycling factory for coffee waste, where the grounds are converted into biomass pellets. These are then used to fuel commercial boilers found pretty much everywhere- homes, offices, airports, supermarkets, even factories.
At the moment, the capacity of the factory allows conversion of 10% of the coffee waste of the whole country each year. Translated into energy numbers, this amount of coffee grounds can power 15,000 homes.
According to Arthur Kay, the founder of Bio-Bean, biomass pallets made from coffee-grounds are much cleaner and eco friendly. In comparison, current biomass pallets are made of wood, which is not only cut, but also has to be transported. In fact, biomass pallets cannot get any more sustainable than this, as the input material is essentially waste, which every single restaurant and coffee place is happy to get rid of.
Another advantage of the coffee-ground pallets, is that they produce carbon-neutral fuel. They are much cheaper, and have a much greater calorific value than wood.
The company is currently looking into other applications of their product. A small scale project looks into making barbecue briquettes and fire logs. The bigger plan, however, is to produce liquid fuel from coffee grounds. With a small addition of other biochemicals, the guys at Bio-Bean believe that they can one day power all buses in London with the coffee grounds collected from the local businesses.
This is a great initiative, and we wish Bio-Bean huge success. They are a clear example that shows how someone’s waste can be another person’s treasure. Or why not this same someone’s treasure?
Image (c) Bio-Bean