Coffee Diesel



‘America is addicted to oil’, said George Bush*. Whilst he said America, it could very well be said for almost the whole world. Large part of the people on this planet are also addicted to coffee. Now the latter addiction can help the first one. Researchers from the University of Nevada, USA, have discovered that diesel can be made from coffee grounds (koffiedik).

The discovery was done by accident. Mano Misra, a professor of engineering who conducted the research with Narasimharao Kondamudi and Susanta K. Mohapatra, said that he realized coffee beans contained a significant amount of oil. “I made a coffee one night but forgot to drink it,” he said. “The next morning I saw a layer of oil floating on it.” The team went to Starbucks and collected 50 pounds of the black stuff.

Analysis showed that even the grounds contained about 10 to 15 percent oil by weight. The researchers then used standard chemistry techniques to extract the oil and convert it to biodiesel. Because of the high number of oxidants in the coffee, the oil turned out to be more stable than other types of biodiesel.

The processes of coffee diesel making is not particularly energy intensive, Dr. Misra said, and the researchers estimated that biodiesel could be produced for about a dollar a gallon, or 18 Eurocents per liter**. A problem could be the collecting of grounds efficiently. Dr. Misra said there are few centralized sources of coffee grounds. The researchers plan to set up a small pilot operation next year using waste from a local bulk roaster.

Even if all the coffee grounds in the world were used to make fuel, the amount produced, 1,5 billion liter, would be less than 1 percent of the diesel used in the United States annually. “It won’t solve the world’s energy problem,”. Dr. Misra said of his work. “But our objective is to take waste material and convert it to fuel.” Biodiesel made from grounds has one other advantage, he said: ‘the exhaust smells like coffee.’

Mano Misra, Narasimharao Kondamudi and Susanta K. Mohapatra

Coffee Diesel (2008)

Coffee grounds

Discovered at University of Nevada, USA


*) State of the Union, 2006, George Bush

**) current, December 30th 2008, exchange rate

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Toon Verberg