London recycler brews up novel energy sourceNovember 2015
A recycling company now scaling up its processing of left-over coffee grounds aims to provide the fuel to heat thousands of London homes and power many of the city’s buses.
Every week the bio-bean company in south London collects several hundreds of tons of coffee waste from industrial coffee factories, bars, offices and transport hubs, including the capital’s seven largest railway stations.
It intends to increase its weekly collection about 100-fold next year to 50,000 tons, or a quarter of London’s coffee waste.
The grounds have their oil removed and are pressed into pellets that can be burnt in boilers or they are processed into ethanol or biodiesel for use in cars and buses.
The coffee waste is claimed to produce 150% more energy than wood pellets because it has a higher calorie content. Even the solvent used in extraction is 99.9% recyclable.
Other advantages are that the waste does not occupy valuable agricultural soil like farm-grown corn and palm oil and it does not need the expensive filtering that cooking oil requires before it can be used in vehicles.
In addition, it is constantly and readily available thanks to the worldwide popularity of coffee.
The attraction for bio-bean’s suppliers is that by offloading their coffee waste they escape landfill fees, which can be heavy.
The bio-bean plan now is to make enough pellets to heat 15,000 homes and to help to fuel the London transport system, whose buses run on biodiesel.
Daniel Crockett, the company’s communications chief, said: “Bio-bean saves money for customers and creates environmental advantages compared with other forms of waste disposal. The local government and business community have been extremely supportive in the early stages of our growth.”
Evidence of Crockett’s boast is the endorsement bio-bean has received from the Virgin group boss Sir Richard Branson and London’s mayor Boris Johnson.
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