A new one-step process that turns spent coffee grounds into biofuel could help in the fight to reduce our reliance on diesel made from fossil fuels, say researchers at Lancaster University. Jim Drury reports.
Many of use coffee to fuel our day......but it can also be used to help power our car. Companies are extracting oil from spent coffee grounds usually thrown into landfill and making it into biodiesel. It's more environmental than growing soybean or corn to make fuel, but can be a lengthy, multi-stage process. Lancaster University researchers say they've developed a more efficient method. SOUNDBITE (English) VESNA NAJDANOVIC-VISAK, LECTURER IN CHEMICAL ENGINEERING AT LANCASTER UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "Our novel process is in situ transesterification, which actually couples two processes - extraction and reaction - into one single step. Generally in chemical engineering when we couple two operations in one single step we usually get a lower processing cost as well as investment costs." The fuel could go straight into our fuel tanks or more realistically be blended in small amounts with other biofuels. SOUNDBITE (English) VESNA NAJDANOVIC-VISAK, LECTURER IN CHEMICAL ENGINEERING AT LANCASTER UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "We are not claiming that we will save the whole planet and that we would provide the fuel that would supply everything in this world. For sure not. But it's one of those puzzles that could contribute to the overall picture - more than by one process solving the whole situation." Coffee waste is already taken from cafes and restaurants for composting or anaerobic digestion. The researchers hope it could one day be collected from individual households, along with our weekly rubbish.