Turning coffee waste into bio-fuel

A Korean scientist has developed a new technology to produce bio-crude oil from used coffee grounds that can be put to commercial use in the near future.

The new technology will prove to be renewable and less expensive, according to KIMM.

The “Tilted-Slide Fast Pyrolyzer,” developed by KIMM researcher Choi Yeon-seok, produces bio-crude oil from used coffee grounds.

The reactor employs the method of rapidly heating coffee grounds in the absence of air and evaporating them like water vapor.

It also uses a gravity-pulled process at the top of the reactor, vaporizing it with sand heated to 500 degrees. When the vapor is collected and frozen, it becomes a type of bio-crude oil.

Meanwhile, the charcoal dust generated as a byproduct during the process can be reused as a heat source.

The heating value of bio-crude oil generated from coffee grounds is 6,000 kilocalories per kilogram, which is higher than 4,000 kilocalories produced using wood scraps.

“This new technology will likely bring the country much closer to the utilization of renewable bio-crude oil. We also plan to develop new technologies that will help further improve efficiency and the environment,” Choi said.

He added that the introduction of the new technology to coffee-producing countries, such as Brazil and Vietnam, will also help solve environmental problems including garbage disposal.

Starbucks Coffee Korea, which donated roughly 25 tons of used coffee grounds for the research, said it will continue to support the research institute.

“We have long been donating used coffee grounds to farmhouses to convert them into cattle feed and fertilizers as a CSR activity,” a Starbucks Coffee Korea official said.

“Upon KIMM’s request, we donated about 25 tons of used coffee grounds to the research team last year. We are proud that the team has produced a fruitful outcome, and we are willing to continue providing coffee grounds for sustainable development and food recycling,” the official said.

Currently, bio-crude oil is only used in static applications due to its poor quality, but KIMM aims to become the world’s first to successfully refine bio-crude oil to produce high-quality, marketable fuel that can be used to power vehicles.

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