london bus Westminster bridge

Fuel made from excess coffee granules used to power London’s double-deckers

Image credit: dt

London buses could be powered by discarded coffee granules in the future under a new project which converts them into fuel.

Londoners typically drink over 20 million cups of coffee a day collectively, leading to lots of wasted excess granules. This amounts to 200,000 tonnes of grounds that are produced by the capital alone each year.

Arthur Kay, the founder of clean energy company Bio Bean, noted that the excess beans were high in calories and typically just chucked away.

These calories have significant energy potential and Kay realised they could play a role as a residential and industrial fuel source.

Bio Bean created a coffee-derived B20 biofuel on a scale large enough to help power some of London’s buses.

The company’s factory can recycle 50,000 tonnes of waste coffee grounds each year. The coffee is sourced through partnerships with high-street coffee shops and factories across the UK. From this coffee, oil is extracted.

Arthur Kay

Blended with other fats and oils to create a 20 per cent biocomponent, this is then mixed with mineral diesel to create a coffee-derived B20 biofuel.

Without modification, Bio Bean’s biofuel is placed directly into select London buses, providing a smarter solution to the inevitable waste product of a metropolitan city.

The project helps to decrease emissions from the transport sector as well as reduce the impact of waste produced by the coffee industry.

Currently, the 6,000 litres of coffee oil provided in this project by Bio Bean would only be enough to help power a single bus for one year.

London ultimately produces enough waste coffee grounds to create a pure-blend B20 biofuel – made from coffee oil and mineral diesel – on a scale large enough to help fuel around a third of the London bus network.

Bio Bean collaborated with Shell and Argent Energy to make the project a reality.

A number of potential solutions to the UK’s vast waste output are being developed. One team is currently planning to create genetically engineered lifeforms that are capable of retrieving materials buried deep within waste sites. 

Meanwhile, landfill sites in Essex are slowly being transformed into fertile wildlife habitats with the excess gas produced by the decomposing rubbish used to make electricity. 

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