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How Converting Coffee Bean Grinds into Biodiesel is Possible

written by: Ashwin Satyanarayana•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 7/23/2010

What do you think of the sources of bio-diesel? It is surprising, but when we humans are pushed, we are indeed competent. New sources of alternative energy are being found almost on a weekly basis. This time, wasted coffee estates or land have been proven to be fertile ground for bio-diesel.

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    Do you think “Anything can happen over coffee”? It sure can. At least energy can be produced from spent coffee plantations which are trashed anyway. Some researchers have found that bio-diesel can be produced from spent coffee grounds in Nevada, which can in turn be used to power automobiles. This source of biodiesel is believed to be abundant, cheap (almost trash), and environmentally friendly.

    The need to find alternatives to rapidly depleting fossil fuel reserves is leading many researchers to find answers in a multi-dimensional effort. It is not just fuels and energy sources that we are looking for; we are now looking for sources that are just as good, but much less polluting and more eco-friendly.

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    New Research Proves Coffee a Viable Option for Making Biodiesel

    Coffee Beans In a striking new study conducted by Man Misra, Susanta Mohapatra, and Narasimharao Kondamudi, it was found that one of the major bottle necks for the production of bio-diesel has always been sources of low-cost, quality feedstock. However, the “oil weight” of "spent coffee estates," which determines the options of growing such feedstock, was found to be about 10 to 11% and is comparable to those lands that grow soya bean oil, rapeseed and palm.

    To prove this, the scientists extracted the oil from the spent coffee grounds. They then employed a relative simply and inexpensive process to convert 100% of that oil into biodiesel.

    According to the research, about 16 billion pounds of coffee is produced throughout the world each year. That's a lot of land being used for such growth. The spent grounds that come about after the production of espresso, java, etc. often wind up as trash and the left-over “unusable land” at best is used for soil conditioning. If such land can be use for growing low-cost, high quality feedstock for bio-diesel, it can account for a whopping US$8 million a year in the U.S alone. The researchers also pointed out that there is a potential to generate about 340 million gallons of biodiesel that can be fed to world’s raging need for energy.

    As the annual production mark for bio-diesel hits the 3 billion mark by 2010, more sources of feedstock and possible lands to grow this feedstock from are required. Biodiesel is a growing market is now seen as one of the most evident alternative sources of energy which can stand in when we see a rapid depletion of the ever popular fossil fuels.

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    Journal Reference

    1. Kondamudi et al. Spent Coffee Grounds as a Versatile Source of Green Energy. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2008; 081201155446010 DOI: 10.1021/jf802487s