How do you make biofuel from coffee?
If you look at the top of a cup of coffee that has been left for a while, you'll see this thin layer - a very slight sheen on top. That's essentially natural oils within coffee that are being released. It is that oil that we are using to help make biofuel.
In the UK we drink an estimated 55 million cups of coffee a day1. By our calculations that produces more than 500,000 tonnes of waste coffee grounds each year. Much of this would otherwise end up at landfill sites.
At bio-bean we work with waste collection companies to collect those used grounds from factories, local cafes, busy train stations, offices and chains like Costa Coffee.
It’s important to us to use existing waste collection and recycling companies because that minimises the number of extra journeys needed. It makes financial sense for companies too, because as well as being environmentally-friendly, it saves them money as it is cheaper than sending the waste grounds to landfill.
Once the grounds arrive at our purpose-built coffee recycling factory the magic begins. The grounds are sifted and dried before a process of evaporation extracts the coffee oil from the grounds.
We managed to produce 6,000 litres of coffee oil. This was used for an ambitious biodiesel project we undertook in 2017 with Shell.
It worked like this. Our partner, Argent Energy used our coffee oil to create a B20 biofuel. B20 means that there are 20% biocomponents - like fats, oils and agricultural products, including our coffee oil. That is mixed with diesel before being added to the London bus fuel supply chain. Which means our coffee oil was used in a select number of regular red buses driving around London.
Bio-bean extracted 6,000 litres of coffee oil from waste coffee grounds, which was used to help power some of London's buses.