Will The Buses Of The Future Be Powered By Coffee?
It’s always fun for us here at commercial coffee supplier Lincoln & York to discover new and interesting uses for coffee. It’s not just for drinking, you know!
Over the years, coffee has been used as a composting agent, insect repellent, a fridge deodoriser, a dye, paint, a cleaning abrasive, an exfoliant… the list is seemingly endless!
And now there’s a start-up company that’s been using coffee waste in a particularly innovative way – as advanced biofuels and biochemicals. Founded back in 2013, bio-bean is touted as the first company in the entire world to work on industrialising the process of recycling waste coffee grounds, established on the premise that there is in fact no such thing as waste!
Waste coffee grounds are actually very calorific and have all sorts of amazing compounds in them that make them absolutely perfect for the production of advanced biofuels. Last year, in fact, the company launched its very first consumer product known as Coffee Logs that can be used at home in multi-fuel stoves, chimineas and open fires – producing more heat for your money than other fuels and also burning a lot longer than wood.
And now the brains behind the outfit are taking it all one step further, about to launch their first coffee-run bus in London in just a matter of weeks.
Speaking to the BBC, entrepreneur Arthur Kay explained that here in the UK 500,000 tonnes of coffee is consumed every year and if all of this waste could be harnessed a city like Manchester could actually be powered.
“We are going through a period of energy divergence where we are moving from a fossil fuel-based society to one that is increasingly diversified. Biofuel will be crucial to that,” he said.
This isn’t the first time that coffee has been considered as an option for powering a vehicle, however! Back in 2010, a 1988 Volkswagen Scirocco was converted so that it could run on coffee – dubbed the Carpuccino!
It was built by BBC One TV show Bang Goes The Theory and was put on display at the Big Bang science fair in Manchester to show that there are alternatives to petrol and diesel for making cars run. It was driven 210 miles between Manchester and London, powered by roasted coffee granules and using 70kg of ground coffee.
Producer of the programme Nick Watson explained at the time that coffee has some carbon in it, similar to wood or coal, so it is able to be used as a fuel.
However, back then the team had to stop at 60-mile intervals to clean out the filters of tar and soot so – even with a top speed of 60mph – it took them around ten hours to complete the journey, according to the Daily Mail!