Researchers at the University of Nevada-Reno have pioneered a process to separate the oil out of used coffee grounds and convert it into biofuel, creating cheap biodiesel from what was once trash. The resulting java-fuel has two big advantages over other oils used in biofuels: it's more stable due to coffee's high antioxidant content, and it smells like coffee.
Waste coffee contains between 11% and 20% oil by weight — about as much as virgin biofuel oils like palm and soybean. But while more than 16 billion pounds of coffee are grown annually for its main people-fuelling objective, it's nowhere near the amount of soybean and palm production. All of the spent coffee grounds generated worldwide could create 8 million barrels of biodiesel annually, or roughly a third of daily oil consumption in the U.S. alone.
The researchers plan to develop a small pilot plant to produce and test the experimental fuel within the next six to eight months. Among the possible details they'll explore: Will running your car after 8 p.m. on the coffee biofuel make it jitter all night long?