Coffee Grounds Generate Power

Samantha Zeitz

We have all heard about the idea of composting coffee grounds. They are close to pH neutral with no acidity once your cup of java is made. The grounds are a great source of nitrogen for composting and help improve soil structure, but it seems they can also be an efficient source of energy.

Bio-Bean Limited has been taking leftover grounds from coffee to create renewable energy. Expected to hit the market this year, they have created a product called Hot Coffees, a new type of barbecue coal made from coffee grounds.

At their production plant in Cambridgeshire, England, they dry the coffee remains, crush them, and then extract the oils. Founder of Bio-Bean, Arthur Kay says the entire process only takes a few hours before the coffee grounds are ready to be used as energy. Through their process they aim to reduce landfill waste, fossil fuels and methane production.

Barbeque coals aren’t the only use for this efficient source of energy. The extracted oil is turned into biodiesel, and the remaining coffee grounds are transformed into biomass pellets. The oil is used as biofuel, powering automotives, and the pellets are sold in one tonne bags to later be used in biomass boilers. The bag is said to be able to produce enough energy to heat a family home for an entire year.

This circular economy receives supply from customer, and then later sends out the final product. Kay says this creates a closed loop system. They collect from coffee shops, freeze dried coffee facilities and roasting facilities. It’s actually cheaper for these outside companies to send their coffee remains to be repurposed rather than paying to dispose of them.

Bio-Bean Limited was honoured with a low carbon entrepreneur award a few years ago, but the London based company is not the only business using coffee waste in a more sustainable way. Nescafe is using coffee as a heat source to cook food at 22 of its 28 factories and Starbucks is looking at converting coffee grounds into laundry detergents and bioplastics.