Squeezing a Little Biodiesel Out of Your Cup of Joe

John Davis

A new study has found a new use for used coffee grounds: biodiesel.

This story from ScienceDaily says researchers at the University of Nevada-Reno are reporting that waste coffee grounds can be made into biodiesel… making for a cheap, abundant, and environmentally friendly feedstock for the green fuel:

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.

And here’s another benefit to the coffee-fueled fuel: it has the aroma of coffee. Got to beat that thick, sick smell of non-renewable petroleum, right?