On Monday, a company called Bio-bean in a partnership with oil giant Royal Dutch Shell introduced a pilot program of bio-fuel created from used coffee grinds to power London’s diesel public buses. The partnership created a first batch of 6,000 liters (about 1,580 gallons) that would fuel approximately one London city bus for an entire year.
According to The New York Times, “The city authorities want to ensure that increasing numbers of buses are fueled by a blend of diesel and biofuels made of products such as waste cooking oil and tallow from meat processing companies.”
“It’s a great example of what can be done when we start to reimagine waste as an untapped resource,” Bio-bean founder Arthur Kay said on CNN.
It's been an amazing day on London's South Bank! We've been speaking to media around the world about our project with @shell's #makethefuture team and Argent Energy. Today, coffee-derived biofuel is in the tanks of buses in London for the first time! . . . #makethefuture #coffeelogs #biobean #coffee #fuel #london
Bio-bean collects the used coffee grounds from cafes, restaurants and factories around London and transports them to their recycling facility to dry before extracting the coffee oil. This oil is then blended with other fuels to create B20 bio-fuel, which can be used by diesel buses without any modifications.
Using recycled waste products like vegetable oil to fuel diesel engines has been a dream of eco-conscious folks for quite some time now -- most notably in the outdoors world by the Malloy brothers and Jeff Johnson in their epic “Bend To Baja” bio-fuel voyage.
But this bio-fuel would not require the costly and complicated conversions that most consumer diesel vehicles need to run on a recycled oil like vegetable oil. As it is, about one sixth of London’s city buses are actually powered by hybrid engines as well.
While the scale of the pilot project is minuscule, it is certainly a start. Bio-bean also creates logs for burning out of coffee grinds that are an alternative to wooden logs.
As Kay said on the prospects of future bio-fuel projects, “There is huge potential for this project to expand in the U.S., which drinks the most coffee on the planet, 400 million cups of per day.”
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