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Coffee really can rev your engine

Industry news

Bath, England - It’s the drink that gets billions of us going in the morning – and soon coffee could be powering up our car engines, too.

Scientists have successfully created fuel from waste coffee grounds - of which millions of tons are thrown away each year worldwide.

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In this Thursday, Aug. 14, 2008 photo, espresso flows into a cup at a coffee house in Overland Park, Kan. A large U.S. federal study concludes people who drink coffee seem to live a little longer. Researchers saw a clear connection between cups consumed and years of life. Whether it was regular or decaf didn't matter. The results are published in the Thursday, May 17, 2012 New England Journal of Medicine. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Experts at the University of Bath found coffee has the relevant physical properties of fuel, and could be a ‘viable’ source of biodiesel.

What is more, the scientists from the university’s Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies said waste grounds - which contain as much as 20 percent oil - could become a ‘sustainable’ alternative to growing food crops specifically for biofuel, such as soy.

It is estimated that a third of the world’s population drinks coffee.

Each 10kg of waste coffee grounds – which is what an average coffee shop produces each day – makes about two litres of biofuel. Oil is extracted by soaking the coffee in an organic solvent, before another process called transesterification, which transforms them into biodiesel.

Researcher Chris Chuck told the journal Energy & Fuels: “Eight million tons of coffee are produced globally each year. This oil also has similar properties to current feedstocks used to make biofuels.”

Rhodri Jenkins, first author of the study, added: “We think coffee biodiesel has great potential as a sustainable fuel source.”

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