The Guardian reports that architecture student Arthur Kay was looking at closed loop waste-to-energy systems for buildings. When he chose a coffee shop he realized the oil content in coffee and the amount of waste produced, 200,000 metric tons a year in London, he set about forming Bio-bean.
The technology Bio-bean uses is straightforward. Coffee grounds are dried, a patented biochemical process extract oil and the remaining material is then turned into bio-mass pellets used to be burned in boilers.
The company’s processing plant isn’t operational yet but could set up a large-scale waste-processing site in North London in six to eight months processing 30,000 metric tons a year. The collection gains some efficiency by concentrating on large-scale coffee producing factories in or around London. Coffee shop chains are interested, too.
The main market for the fuel is London’s transport system.
Coming from essentially free waste, Kay says both the biodiesel and pellets can be produced at 10 percent below market trading price. Recycling coffee containers has gained a foothold in London, but now it’s the beans’ turn.
Other organizations such as Starbucks, Nestle and the University of Cincinnati are already turning spent coffee grounds into bioplastics, laundry detergents and biodiesel. Starbucks, for example, purchases around 400 million pounds of coffee a year and is working on turning the used grounds, along with its bakery waste, into laundry detergents, bioplastics and other products.