One Man's Coffee Grounds Are Another's Biodiesel

Waste can be turned into cheap fuel
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 16, 2008 11:25 AM CST
One Man's Coffee Grounds Are Another's Biodiesel
Mayor Dale Ray stands in tall grass around a shuttered biodiesel plant in Missouri. Coffee grounds could be the latest waste to be harvested for energy.   (AP Photo)

If lattes seem overpriced now, wait until coffee becomes a precious commodity. An engineering professor spied an opportunity in the layer of oil he found floating in an old cup of coffee one morning. He extracted what was left in some used grounds—about 10%-15% oil by weight—with simple chemistry and produced $1-a-gallon biodiesel, the New York Times reports.

Several hundred million gallons of biofuel could come from the coffee brewed just this year, though that’s only about 1% of the diesel guzzled in the US. Still, a pilot program is being set up with a Nevada roaster to test the waste’s potential. “It won’t solve the world's energy problem,” the prof admits, but it’s the only fuel that leaves a sweet aroma. (More biodiesel stories.)

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