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From Used Coffee Grounds to Diesel Fuel

Posted: 02/24/09
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Ford MustangAre recycled coffee grounds our future? Scientists say that the oil in used coffee grounds can be extracted to produce biodiesel. Not only would this help in producing fuel, but it would also help our environment! This innovative process would help eliminate waste from our landfills, provide a healthier fuel for our cars therefore reducing air pollution. It would also conserve some of our food crops in the United States. Biodiesel is primarily made from soybeans, canola oils and animal fats, and from palm oil, sunflowers and sugar cane in developing countries.

Coffee Oils Discovered
Professor Mano Misra, an ecological and chemical metallurgical professor at the University of Nevada, Reno came across the discovery by accident, when he left a cup of coffee out overnight. The next morning he noticed a ring of oil on the cup. After some research, he and a team of scientists found that coffee beans contain 10-15% oil by weight. After some research and development they were able to convert the coffee grounds into biodiesel. The scientists believe that the low cost of conversion coupled with the abundance of used coffee grounds, which could be collected from national coffee chains, the coffee biodiesel could be produced at approximately $1.00 per gallon. And according to these scientists, the new coffee biodiesel is actually more stable than corn and soy bean-based biodiesel.

The Journal of Agriculture and Food ChemistryCoffee Grounds
According to a report in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, producing biodiesel from coffee grounds is a simple technique and because there is so much coffee around, several hundred million gallons of biodiesel could potentially be made annually. And isn't it better to recycle waste than recycle food products?

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science
Harvesting plants for fuel could be more detrimental to the environment, according to Julie Stoughton with the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science at the University of Nevada, Reno. "Sometimes we emit more CO2 into the air by harvesting fuel", says Stoughton. "You have to clear the land, till the land, and then you have to plant on it. People clear out large sections of the forest and jungle to plant crops, but those crops don't have the same healthy output as the natural vegetation that was once there."

Filling gas tankDr. Misra Launches His Idea
Doctor Misra is presently working hard with three companies to launch his idea into the market. Two of the three companies are American and the third is a Canadian company. Misra's discovery could help reduce world hunger and greenhouse gases.

Converting to the new biodiesel would be easy. Any diesel engine can run on biodiesel with an estimated mix of 80 percent diesel and 20 percent biodiesel. "No conversion costs are associated with running biodiesel through a diesel engine," Misra said. "You can trick your engine."

Biodiesel made from spent coffee beans does not take away from the land used to produce food, nor does it affect the biodiversity of a country. It certainly appears to be a win-win situation. Talk about coffee to go!