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Waste Coffee Grounds Offer New Source of Biodiesel 276

Posted by timothy
from the as-if-you-needed-another-reason dept.
Julie188 writes "Researchers in Nevada are reporting that waste coffee grounds can provide a cheap, abundant, and environmentally friendly source of biodiesel fuel for powering cars and trucks. Their study has been published online in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Growers produce more than 16 billion pounds of coffee around the world each year. Scientists estimate that spent coffee grounds can potentially add 340 million gallons of biodiesel to the world's fuel supply."
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Waste Coffee Grounds Offer New Source of Biodiesel

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 12, 2008 @03:56AM (#26087393)
    and as the price of bio-diesel goes up, so does the cost of our coffee. Eventually, none of us will be able to wake up at all.
    • by maxwell demon (590494) on Friday December 12, 2008 @04:20AM (#26087523) Journal

      Note that they make the biodiesel from used coffee grounds. That is, unlike corn, it's not in competition to food usage. Indeed, a growing biodiesel price would mean that the coffee makers would get more money for the waste coffee ground, and therefore if at all, the coffee would get cheaper. Well, at least the coffy you buy ready-made. Making your own probably gets more expensive (but then, mabe it will be possible to sell personal waste coffee ground as well; after all, there should be a lot coffee be made by individuals). What would certainly get more expensive is instant coffee, because that doesn't produce waste coffee grounds.

      • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@NOsPam.hotmail.com> on Friday December 12, 2008 @04:45AM (#26087623) Journal
        What would certainly get more expensive is instant coffee, because that doesn't produce waste coffee grounds.

        Eh? Where do you think the rest of those 43 beans goes?

        Spent coffee grounds from the brewing process are the primary waste product. At least one manufacturer burns these grounds to heat water and generate steam that is used in the manufacturing process. The process is designed to be environmentally friendly, minimizing waste products by maximizing the use of the raw materials.

        http://www.answers.com/topic/instant-coffee-1 [answers.com]

        • by XavidX (1117783) on Friday December 12, 2008 @06:44AM (#26088101)
          This is kinda interesting from the link you mentioned (http://www.answers.com/topic/instant-coffee-1)

          The manufacture of instant coffee begins with brewing coffee in highly efficient extraction equipment. Softened water is passed through a series of five to eight columns of ground coffee beans. The water first passes through several "hot" cells (284-356F, or 140-180C), at least some of which operate at higher-than-atmospheric pressure, for extraction of difficult components like carbohydrates. It then passes through two or more "cold" cells (about 212F, or 100C) for extraction of the more flavorful elements. The extract is passed through a heat exchanger to cool it to about 40F (5C). By the end of this cycle, the coffee extract contains 20-30% solids.

        • Instant? (Score:3, Funny)

          by WED Fan (911325)

          What would certainly get more expensive is instant coffee, because that doesn't produce waste coffee grounds.

          Instant bio-diesel? 2 scoops of powder, add water. Cream? Sugar?

          So, if you don't want the exhaust to smell like your breakroom after the dipshit from IT grabbed the pot off the hotplate while it was still dripping, do we want to add Irish Creme to the mix?

          Will they someday insist that we switch to decaf biodiesel to protect the environment? Do I have to stop telling the Barista to make mine leaded?

          Si

      • by Evil Pete (73279) on Friday December 12, 2008 @05:46AM (#26087853) Homepage

        Used coffee grounds. So how much feedstock to the process is this per person. Um let me calculate that.... squat per day. What is the point of this? Think how much fuel you use per day. Measured in litres not millilitres. The trouble with these bullshit figures is that they are unrealistic, they assume suspension of disbelief. Remember in physics classes where they emphasised that you estimated the power of 10 (magnitude) so that you would have a reality check? Same here.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Silentknyght (1042778)

        . That is, unlike corn, it's not in competition to food usage.

        Unlike corn-based ethanol. Like the waste coffee grounds, part of the corn (e.g the cob) isn't used for human consumption. It, too, is actively being pursued as a possible source energy. Just an FYI from someone in the field, who is actively involved in these kinds of projects.

  • shipping cost (Score:5, Interesting)

    by convolvatron (176505) on Friday December 12, 2008 @04:00AM (#26087409)

    how much of it can one effectively suck back from the ends of the capillaries of the distribution system?

    • Re:shipping cost (Score:4, Insightful)

      by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Friday December 12, 2008 @04:11AM (#26087475) Homepage
      If lucky, probably just enough to power the trucks to go get it at 47 pounds of coffee grounds per gallon of fuel.
      • Re:shipping cost (Score:4, Insightful)

        by moosesocks (264553) on Friday December 12, 2008 @04:30AM (#26087575) Homepage

        I doubt there'd be special trips to pick up the grinds. Rather, the coffee shop would exchange their old grinds for new ones each time the truck comes.

        That said, I doubt many coffee shops go through enough grinds to make this remotely economical.

        • Citation needed. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by RustinHWright (1304191) on Friday December 12, 2008 @05:20AM (#26087739) Homepage Journal

          I doubt many coffee shops go through enough grinds to make this remotely economical.

          Let's do some rough math. According to TFA, coffee grounds are at least 15% oil. So if a typical coffee shop disposes of 20 lbs of grounds a day, which I would guess is modest, then we're talking about approx. 3 pounds of oil. Are you saying that it will use up a pound or more of oil to transport that to somewhere to process it? And if a coffee shop generates less, why would they have to dispose of it daily? Once they understand it to be a revenue source they will, as restaurants already do about other kinds of waste oil, be more than willing to make the storage space to accommodate the extra income.
           
          If we assume that retail space costs $4 per square foot (which is a high estimate for much of the country) and that grounds are stored 4' high, then if, say, 20 lbs of grounds are stored per cubic foot, each square foot of space can store at least 12 lbs of oil. Assuming that oil is worth fifty cents a pound and pickup once every three days, then $0.50 * 12 lbs * 10 pickups = $60 net revenue.

          You tell me, is $60.00 bigger than $4.00? It's been a while since I took arithmetic but I seem to remember that this is so.

          • by sleeponthemic (1253494) on Friday December 12, 2008 @05:45AM (#26087845) Homepage

            You tell me, is $60.00 bigger than $4.00? It's been a while since I took arithmetic but I seem to remember that this is so

            Confirmation on that, chief. $60 is more than $4.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by moosesocks (264553)

            Don't forget to subtract out labor and administrative costs, as well as the cost of operating the coffee to oil process.

            At best, it might break even. (See also: that episode of Seinfeld where they fill up a truck with glass bottles to drive to Michigan to redeem the $0.05 deposits.)

            • Take a look again at my pricing. I give fifty cents a pound as the net value for oil. Which is a damned conservative valuation even including those costs. Think of what oil sells for now. Dude, I'm a former logistics and process consultant; I'm way ahead of you.

              Oh, and for future reference, comedy shows, especially ones meant to undermine respect for thinking and work, are rarely good guides to framing the utility of an activity.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by phantomlord (38815)

            Once they understand it to be a revenue source they will, as restaurants already do about other kinds of waste oil, be more than willing to make the storage space to accommodate the extra income.

            I'm not sure about where you live, but here in western NY, restaurants generally don't get paid for their used fryer oil. Rather, it costs $35 a month to rent an oil dumpster and to have it emptied (at least it did at the restaurant I managed up until 2 years ago). We had someone offer to take the oil for free from us to convert to bio-diesel, but it actually cost us more money to give it away to him since we had to waste time opening and closing buckets, being sure to carefully pour it, etc. At 10 extra mi

            • by RustinHWright (1304191) on Friday December 12, 2008 @07:01AM (#26088203) Homepage Journal

              Sure. In some places. Two years ago or even longer ago. Times have changed since then. Check it out. These days there have been increasing problems with waste oil being *stolen* from behind restaurants. Around here waste oil tanks are chained, locked, and covered in PROPERTY OF.. stickers these days. Certainly, not everybody has figured it out yet but the economics of used oil have changed, even with fuel prices now dropping back down. For a while.

              As for the mechanics you're talking about, just like anything else, a new approach is taking a while to get new infrastructure. Waste oil containers *designed* for transfer. Sealed transfer means that are more like the effluent pipes for a motor home than like the kind of manual lift, turn, and scrub you're used to. Catalysts to reduce residue in tanks. Spinner filters that push all that goo out of the way with far less use of consumables.

              This kind of thing not only has to deal with half a dozen categories of health and safety regs, it also gets alternately obstructed and improved by big, semi-monopoly firms like Waste Management. But it's also being addressed by more engineers and private designers than the Manhattan Project.

              But the bottom line is that these kinds of things are very new and to judge long term viability, let alone net pricing, based on the cobbled together amateur hour stuff you're talking about is like judging what a PC can do based on a badly soldered Altair. Demand is there. Supply is there. McDonalds and the other fast food chains, plenty of non-profits, and several hundred governments are funding the creation of better ways to do this. In fact, McDonalds has been selling their waste oil in Europe for quite a few years now. For, mind you, a hefty profit.

              Oh, and fwiw, I'm well acquainted with the mechanics of this. I was just pricing retail space last night, I've been through quite a few waste oil facilities and have gone over things like transfer techniques, residual water percentages, and so on, with people up to and including the head of process engineering for Kettle potato chips and various demand side folks in both east and west coast biofuels processors, including ones from near you. Just talked last month with the New York State head of such things a few months back about the lack of publicity the NY State programs done upstate under Pataki got. I think that you'll find that Patterson will change that.

              It ain't over yet, dude. And if you check into petrochemical processing from a hundred years ago you will find that it was messy, awkward, wasteful, and far more dangerous. These things take a little time. And they're improving fast.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by Rogerborg (306625)
              Dude, he's a "former logistics and process consultant". He's way ahead of you.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        And it all seemed to work just fine, until the Juan Valdez oil spill...

    • Re:shipping cost (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ILuvRamen (1026668) on Friday December 12, 2008 @04:20AM (#26087525)
      from shows I've seen on TV, the idea is for it to be made in lots of local facilities to avoid shipping. It's sort of like future gas stations will make their own biodiesel or at least get it from a supplier within 25 miles in like 80% of populated US cities or something close to that. Also they'd have huge battery banks and solar panels and wind turbines so they could recharge electric cars at very little cost to them. Sounds like they'd make a hell of a large profit by doing either or those let alone both.
      • by stranger_to_himself (1132241) on Friday December 12, 2008 @04:30AM (#26087565) Journal

        ..It's sort of like future gas stations will make their own biodiesel or at least get it from a supplier within 25 miles in like 80% of populated US cities or something close to that...

        And in the unpopulated cities they have to rely on imports because the undead don't drink coffee.

      • by theaveng (1243528)

        Yes. As oil becomes more scarce, recylcing becomes more profitable. It's just basic economics.

        Also in my humble opinion, diesel is the future not hydrogen. Diesel engines are the most-efficient method of moving cars, second only to solar which unfortunately has proven to be not practical (yet). So we'll trade-in our inefficient gassers for efficient diesel cars...... then sometime around 2030 diesel will be replaced with biodiesel made from home production (soybeans, corn, sugar cane, and waste products

  • After I drink my cup of coffee in the morning to wake up, I give it to my car, which needs it to wake up too.

  • by Ssherby (1429933) on Friday December 12, 2008 @04:08AM (#26087459)
    I want my coffee to be unleaded, and my bio-diesel to be caffeinated.
    • My deluxe vehicle only runs on biodiesel produced from Kopi Luwak grounds, made from coffee berries which have been eaten by and passed through the digestive tract of the Asian Palm Civet.

      My motor simply purrs along the freeways, naturally!

  • Yay! /. will supply 80% of the worlds Biodiesel!
  • by glavenoid (636808) on Friday December 12, 2008 @04:12AM (#26087477) Journal
    Sure, bio-diesel is great, but what difference does that make to people running cars dependent on refined gasoline?

    Until either carmakers start to manufacture vehicles that can accept something other than regular gasoline (petrol), or realize the short-term benefits of diesel-based vehicles, this kind of shit will go no-where.

    Car-makers -- Start going towards diesel fuel. It's the way of the near future. Diesel engines are already flex-fuel by nature. *Then* create motor vehicles that can handle multiple fuels.

    • by lisaparratt (752068) on Friday December 12, 2008 @04:15AM (#26087503)

      They do. They just don't sell them in the US, because your domestic diesel is dirty filthy stuff compared to that used in the rest of the world, and would foul their fueling systems in no time at all.

      • by glavenoid (636808)
        Touche.
      • by moosesocks (264553) on Friday December 12, 2008 @04:39AM (#26087599) Homepage

        We fixed that. By 2010, all US diesel will meet or exceed international standards.

        VW can't sell their diesel jettas fast enough in the US.

      • by d3ac0n (715594) on Friday December 12, 2008 @11:16AM (#26090495)

        No, they don't sell them in the US because the two largest markets, NY and California, have ASININE environmental laws that prevent new diesel passenger vehicles from being sold. (Passenger vehicle being legally defined as a standard automobile or SUV)

        I should know, I ran headlong into these laws just recently. In 2006 I was in the market for a new car. I wanted a Diesel Jeep Liberty. I was planning on brewing my own bio-diesel and getting nice, cheap, environmentally friendly fuel. But I ran into these laws. Apparently it has to do with the NY Environmental air regulations, related to the high-sulfur diesel. Well, the diesel is changing, but Chrysler decided that they couldn't make their diesels efficient enough to meet NY and CA standards (nobody can, the standards are stupidly unrealistic.) so they DROPPED the diesel from their lineup.

        I ended up waiting longer as I heard they were coming out with a new diesel engine in 2008. Well, NY and CA RAISED THE ENVIRO STANDARDS AGAIN, making even the new, Diamler-Benz Blu-tech diesels too inefficient. So Chrysler decided to not even BOTHER adding the blu-tech diesel to the Liberty (and I think they dropped it from all US cars and SUVs). I still wanted a 4x4 to deal with Western NY winters, and the Liberty was still the best bang for the buck. So I ended up leasing a 2008 Jeep Liberty GASOLINE vehicle.

        So, thanks to stupid Enviro laws, I am prevented from buying the vehicle I want, and am stuck driving a less-efficient gasoline vehicle, which creates more air pollution than the diesel vehicle I wanted.

        This is why Big-Govt enviro laws are FAIL. Because there will ALWAYS be some stupid bureaucrat getting some pointless regulation passed which does the exact OPPOSITE of what they intend it to do. Stupid politicians and bureaucrats! GRRRRR! >:(

    • by Idaho (12907) on Friday December 12, 2008 @04:37AM (#26087589)

      Sure, bio-diesel is great, but what difference does that make to people running cars dependent on refined gasoline?

      Until either carmakers start to manufacture vehicles that can accept something other than regular gasoline (petrol)

      Uhm, they do?

      Except in America, apparently. Meanwhile in the rest of the world, diesel-powered engines are very common, I think in Europe about 1/3rd of new cars sold run on diesel and will accept this bio-diesel without any engine modifications. For trucks (again in Europe), virtually 100% of them run on diesel and it has been this way forever, since diesel engines have high torque at low RPM and are therefore especially suitable to towing heavy loads.

      • by ianezz (31449)
        I think in Europe about 1/3rd of new cars sold run on diesel

        Actually, more than 50% [greencarcongress.com].

      • by RMH101 (636144)
        In the UK, it's more like 40% or so, although the rising prices and premium you pay at the pump when you buy fuel, and the premium on diesel engines (modern high pressure common rail diesels are complex) are starting to make it less attractive than it used to be. If you buy new, and do over, say 20,000 miles a year, it's a no-brainer. Less than that, maybe not.
        Still, look at the numbers. VW have BlueMotion versions of most of their cars which are nothing more than standard diesels with slightly higher
    • Multi-fuel engines have been around for a while (engine nerds like to restore the ancient Kelvins, which ran on both gasoline and Diesel - but not very well on either.) However, they will never be as clean and efficient as a single fuel engine because the actual mode of combustion of gasoline and Diesel engines is quite different - gasoline burns fast and Diesel burns slow. I remember well the horrible multi-fuel engine of the British Challenger tank, which betrayed its presence with a plume of smoke. A fav
      • by jsoderba (105512) on Friday December 12, 2008 @06:04AM (#26087917)

        In most of Europe taxes on gasoline are much higher than on diesel. This creates an artificial demand for diesel powered cars. Without taxation diesel is actually somewhat more expensive than gas due to a more complex refining process. Today this tax discrimination is partially motivated by lower greenhouse gas emissions, but originally it was a sop to the trucking industry. It was only in the 90s that environmentally friendly diesels were pioneered by VW.

        The diesel engines used by GM's European divisions (Opel and Saab) are competitive with VW's and other European manufacturers' engines. Ford also has good diesels in its Volvo cars.

        A major barrier to diesel adoption in the US is California's environmental laws. Diesel engines produce more particulates (soot) than gasoline engines, increasing local air pollution. Due to the geography of Los Angeles it is unusually prone to smog, so California's emission controls are particularly strict. US car makers don't like the idea of marketing models that are excluded from the biggest car market in the country.

      • by Bert64 (520050)

        Or they would just import more foreign cars...
        Cars from all these countries are already for sale in the US, most manufacturers offer diesel variants in europe but only offer petrol versions of the same cars in the US, and would likely continue to do so but in greater numbers if american car companies folded.

    • Every vehicle anywhere that switches away from gasoline to diesel or some other fuel cuts the demand for gasoline. Demand goes down, prices for gas go down.

      • by theaveng (1243528)

        Gasoline doesn't have to be gasoline. If demand for gasoline drops, the low-octane gasoline can be refined into diesel or home-heating oil, some of it can be converted to kerosene, and the rest used for plastics.

         

    • by theaveng (1243528)

      Manufacturers like Volkswagen, Ford, and Mercedes already build diesel cars that can burn biodiesel.

      IMHO diesel is the future, not hydrogen. Diesel is the most-efficient form of energy, second only to solar which unfortunately has proven to be not practical (yet). So we'll trade-in our inefficient gassers for efficient diesel cars...... then sometime around 2020 diesel will be replaced with biodiesel made from home production (soybeans, corn, sugar cane, and waste products like coffee/french fry grease/sc

  • by Protoslo (752870) on Friday December 12, 2008 @04:19AM (#26087511)
    The total yearly amount of biodiesel available from this "abundant" source worldwide is less than the amount of motor gasoline [doe.gov] consumed in a single day in the U.S. in 2007. To be fair, TFA implies nothing of the sort, the summary is just rather enthusiastic.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by captainpanic (1173915)
      There will not be a single source of biomass to replace all fossil fuels. Also, that is not desirable: then the whole world would need to be planted with the same crop. (Although I can see some enthusiasm for a world with only coffee). There are many, many sources of waste materials containing any form of carbon - those can all be converted into a fuel. Obviously, one should always consider the energy needed to make the fuel, and to transport it to where it is needed. If transport is too expensive, I sugges
    • by Alsee (515537)

      Ok, on January 1st everyone drinks their year's worth of coffee, and on January 2nd we drive on it.

      -

  • In other words (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Once&FutureRocketman (148585) <otvk4o702@sneake[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Friday December 12, 2008 @04:31AM (#26087577) Homepage

    Scientists estimate that spent coffee grounds can potentially add 340 million gallons of biodiesel to the world's fuel supply."

    Of about a bit less than half of ONE DAY of oil consumption for just the United States.

    It's nice to harvest the waste stream and all (although coffee grounds are also really great fertilizer), but this is not in any way a "sustainable" solution to anything. There's a scale mismatch to the problem they claim to be addressing.

    • a little less than half of the current demand for fuel could come from waste products, and you're saying that's shameful? improving the processes will only improve the output. increasing the use of diesel will reduce the overall demand for fuel.

      i don't know about you, but if i had the opportunity to turn my various organic _waste_ products into useable fuel, it would be high on my list of priorities. is this being done in europe yet?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Or what you're really saying is nearly all the fuel produced by the process will be consumed simply by transporting the 16 billion pounds of coffee to a plant where it can be processed to biodiesel and the cars of the employees traveling to the plant to process it.

      • by RustinHWright (1304191) on Friday December 12, 2008 @05:40AM (#26087817) Homepage Journal

        Funny how people keep talking about fuel used to transport other fuel being some sort of dealbreaker. How do these people think gas is transported now from, say, the Middle East? Magic elf slippers? If transporting gas half way across the world, which is what we do now and have for generations, isn't a big deal, then why do people keep thinking that transporting some other fuel a few hundred miles will eat up all of its net energy advantage?

        • by irtza (893217)

          Well, to answer your question, one must think of the volume of gas produced. Right now, each supplier has output that greatly overwhelms any other aspect of the equation. There is little cost going into extraction, purification and transport because the source itself has an abundant supply.

          Now, lets move to the coffee situation. The supply of coffee in each are is relatively limited. It needs to be transported back to a central point for processing. Obviously moving one canister of used coffee to say o

        • by squoozer (730327)

          The difference is really in the scale of the transportation and the concentration of the fuel source. The fuels that we currently consume such as oil and coal have very large deposits in comparativly small areas. Used coffee grounds on the other hand are widely spread across the whole world making collection harder. I'm sure if oil was spread thinly everywhere rather than being localized in wells it wouldn't be any where near as economical (from an energy point of view).

          There is one mitigating factor with u

        • How do these people think gas is transported now from, say, the Middle East? Magic elf slippers?

          Everyone knows elves go barefoot.
          Oh wait, no, that's hobbits. Nevermind, my bad.

          -

      • Instead of transporting the 16 billion pounds of coffee to the dump. OK, I'm assuming that there will be a tight infrastructure for bio-diesel plants...

    • by RustinHWright (1304191) on Friday December 12, 2008 @05:34AM (#26087791) Homepage Journal

      This isn't about COFFEE FIXES THE ENTIRE WORLD. It's about yet another proof that we are surrounded by hundreds of viable sources of sustainable fuel. That now that we're finally waking up to it, gasoline and diesel and the lot are just carbon and hydrogen and a few other plentiful elements, all of which are quite literally common as dirt and easy to shift from one simple set of molecules to another. It's only being subjected to over a hundred years of propaganda and sabotage by the oil companies that made us forget that in the first place. Henry Ford and Rudolf Diesel, to name two, certainly always knew better.
       
        Do you consider a single teacher useless if she or he can't personally teach every student in the world at once? Do you consider a meal useless unless it means you'll never have to eat again? Do you consider RAM useless unless each piece can hold all the files you'll ever need to store?

      This isn't "a scale mismatch". It's just people going out and significantly decreasing the problem. And with them cutting it down by maybe a third of one percent this week and somebody else finding another approach that cuts it by another half a percent next week and so on, the work gets done. Thats what real life is. You go out and make things better. And with six billion of us, you don't need to assume that one little development will fix the problem. Only that it moves us forward.

      • by squoozer (730327)

        I fear you are actually missing the point. The point is not that coffee grounds can or can't make oil it's how much effort it requires to do it for what gain we get out the other end. For a start I doubt very much if the figures for the amount of diesel produced are realistic. This person is trying to sell this idea so he's going to have given the best case scenario where every used coffee ground is processed into diesel which simply isn't going to be the case in reality. For arguments sake though lets say

        • by RustinHWright (1304191) on Friday December 12, 2008 @07:08AM (#26088249) Homepage Journal

          It's been a hell of a long time since anybody just "pumped it out of the ground". Oil these days is forced up with thousands of tons of pressurized (and now toxic) water, run through hundred million dollar curving, shifting pipe complexes that are prone to breaking waaaaaaay down in the ground. If, that is, the platform can be kept on station, the local government doesn't collapse, the pipeline isn't blown up by rebels or simply competing power groups, and on and on. If you think that we're comparing biofuels to a process where people just dig a hole a few feet deep and oil just politely spurts into a tank, then I think that you need to take a look at how these things are done in the modern world.

  • Big Deal? (Score:3, Funny)

    by JRSiebz (691639) on Friday December 12, 2008 @04:37AM (#26087595)
    I've been putting coffee grounds in my Mr. Fusion for years.
  • How do they do it? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Virtually Sane (1168935) on Friday December 12, 2008 @04:53AM (#26087661)

    OK - so I read the article os I'm not a real Slashdot reader.

    They quote a figure of 11 - 20% oil in the coffee grounds and processing leaves a solid that can be composted. This looks like standard solvent extraction of the oil.

    The scale of the material available is not enough to replace non USA sources of fuel for cars.

    BUT it is a step in the right direction, along with oil from algae, fischer-trope, oil from crops etc. Diversity of supply gives better security and helps keep the money in the country rather than export cash abroad.

    If I were a betting man, I'd put money on small scale (1 tonne/hour) fischer-trope reaction vessels - this can use any waste organic material.

    For the sceptics out there, look at the scale of ALL organic based waste in the USA and then look at the volume of oil that fuel derived by this process could deliver.

    Also in terms of jobs, I believe there may be a number of auto parts suppliers looking to diversify into new industries right about now.

  • Back to the future? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by guacamole (24270) on Friday December 12, 2008 @04:57AM (#26087669)

    All this talk about biofuel from this and a biodiesel from that leads me to wonder whether some day our cars and homes will be equipped with mini power plants that process organic material, kind of what we saw in the Back to the Future's modified DeLorean from the future..

  • Diesel in the USA..? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by heavygravity (160241) on Friday December 12, 2008 @05:03AM (#26087683) Homepage
    With all the talk about driving more fuel efficient vehicles and people buying hybrids thinking that they're getting the most efficient vehicle out there, I have one question: why aren't diesels being used in the USA?

    Of course they can be found very occasionally, but they're certainly not mainstream.

    Why a diesel? Well, I drive a 4-year old diesel car. It's a full size car. It uses 5.3L/100km (that means I get 44.38mpg). And I drive like a normal person (or perhaps a little more aggressively). The car tops out at about 140mph.

    This is a run of the mill vehicle - except it uses a 2.0L diesel engine. Why don't carmakers sell diesels in the USA? It doesn't seem like rocket science.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      http://www.businessweek.com/autos/autobeat/archives/2008/09/can_diesel_ever.html

    • by RustinHWright (1304191) on Friday December 12, 2008 @05:43AM (#26087825) Homepage Journal

      Our car companies and national vehicle policies haven't turned out to be very bright. Some people say that eventually this may even cause American car makers to have financial problems. Maybe you've heard about it.

  • .. or you could just leave the grounds out to dry, then toss them into an ordinary furnace. Generate heat or steam or electricity or whatever without the nasty chemicals and energy required to process the stuff into biodiesel...

  • Let's assume spent coffee grinds are easy to collect (they're not), and that those making biodiesel from grands will have a free supply of spent grinds (which they won't). The amount of usable fuel oil from grinds will require more spent fuel than the process produces.

    Corn ethanol has the exact same problem. By the time you've farmed the corn and processed it for fuel use, you're expended more fuel than it saves. Sure the corn is renewable, but it's fossil fuels that are being burned to make it and ship

  • ...then one would think that the fuel could be made out of all biodegradeable "waste" plant matter. Collecting it would just be a small step for many, as they already sort out glass, paper, plastic, etc, for recycling. Out here, they already have the separate green bins for plant matter recycling. Would also drastically reduce the amount of garbage that people generate.
  • by Eunuchswear (210685) on Friday December 12, 2008 @06:52AM (#26088139) Journal

    Scientists estimate that spent coffee grounds can potentially add 340 million gallons of biodiesel to the world's fuel supply.

    I assume they mean 340 million gallons a year.

    World oil production is around 83 million bbl a day (2004 est.), about 10 times as much (1bbl = 42 gal). So this would keep us going for about two hours and 20 minutes a year.

  • just finished reading this in the last front page article http://games.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1059759&cid=26086943 [slashdot.org] and they throw this at us. Just think, "McDonalds biofuel burned my car after I crashed it!" I would laugh, but I am too scared it may happen.
  • I'm wondering whether this production of biodiesel requires different equipment and processes than the filtration of used cooking oil, or any number of other sources. Otherwise, we'd have this expensive, bulky equipment just for purifying coffee grounds, and additional expensive, bulky equipment for processing peanut shells, and any number of other sources, all for producing less than one day's worth of oil demand all year. If the biodiesel is extractable using some kind of "standard method," perhaps the
  • by TrentTheThief (118302) on Friday December 12, 2008 @10:52AM (#26090115)

    How many tons of seeds, stems, and leaves are wasted every year?

    Coffee grounds is just another freaking hype buzz word. Henry Ford was using hemp for bio-diesel 60 years ago.

    "Make the most of the hemp seed and sow it everywhere." -- George Washington.

    Get with the plan, people. Don't toss those seeds in the trash, toss them into fields and gardens everywhere.

  • by olddotter (638430) on Friday December 12, 2008 @10:53AM (#26090125) Homepage
    My coffee habit should get me on a list of major Bio-diesel feed stock suppliers. :-)
  • La-dee-dah (Score:3, Informative)

    by shking (125052) <babulicm@cuu[ ]b.ca ['g.a' in gap]> on Friday December 12, 2008 @11:13AM (#26090455) Homepage

    spent coffee grounds can potentially add 340 million gallons of biodiesel to the world's fuel supply

    Approximately 2 gallons per car in the USA, or one gallon per American, or 1 liter per "first world" citizen (N.America, Europe, Japan and a few others)

  • Increased Efficiency (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Friday December 12, 2008 @11:43AM (#26090963)
    And you can increase efficiency even more if you can harness those caffeine overcharged individuals who just consumed the coffee to peddles to help power their vehicles.
  • Starbucks .... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wtansill (576643) on Friday December 12, 2008 @02:38PM (#26093651)
    now has a completely new business model and revenue stream...

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