Some London Buses are Being Powered by Coffee Grounds

By Tom Pritchard on at

Coffee is a big business, especially that fancy coffee you can buy from a tax-dodging corporation that marks everything up. I imagine so much coffee gets sold, some estate agent will start insisting that it's the reason millennials can't afford to buy a house. All that coffee means a lot of coffee grounds are generated. Normally they'd be thrown away, but that's changing because they're being used to power some of London's many buses.

The idea comes from Shell, Bio-Bean, and Argent Energy, and involves extracting oil from coffee grounds and blending it with diesel to create something known as B20 biodiesel. About 20 per cent of the final mix came from coffee grounds, and buses don't need to be modified to accept the new fuel.

One of the ideas here is to help reduce pollution, though I'd be interested to see what the difference is between B20 and regular diesel. It's still fuel at the end of the day, and 80 per cent of that fuel burns to create some nasty stuff.

The other idea is to help reduce waste, and put any leftovers to good use. Bio-Bean claims that the average Londoner drinks 2-3 cups of coffee a day, which means 200,000 tonnes of waste grounds are produced by everyone throughout the year. Apparently that has the potential to emit 126 million kg of CO2 if it goes to landfill. It'll still emit that if you burn it, but at least this way the grounds are being put to good use rather than sitting in a hole in the ground.

If all of London's coffee grounds were to be recycled and processed into biofuel, it's estimated that it could power a third of the city's buses. We're probably a bit of a way off from that figure right now (there are a lot of buses in London), but that's still a very significant figure.

Just imagine what could be done if the grounds were collected from coffee shops all over the country?


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