Ah, that first cup of coffee in the morning. It really gets you moving. And soon, it could get your car moving, too.
According to research from the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University of Nevada, used coffee grounds could be a near-endless and extremely profitable source of biofuels. Not only do the grounds themselves contain a huge amount of oil, the grounds still have use after the oil has been extracted. The dried grounds can become fuel pellets for stoves, or be used as compost, meaning the process leaves almost no waste behind.
Another bonus: the antioxidants in coffee would help to prevent the coffee-based biofuels from going rancid. (That's not something you read about very often in discussions of biofuels -- they have a shelf life. In this case, the coffee biofuel was "found to be stable for more than 1 month under ambient conditions.")
Now, we make a lot of coffee in our household, but think of the impact of a big chain like Starbucks. According to the scientists behind this research, Starbucks alone generates (annually) 210 million pounds of spent coffee grounds, which could then become 2.92 million gallons of biodiesel and 89,000 tons of fuel pellets. Now too shabby.
The research, "Spent Coffee Grounds as a Versatile Source of Green Energy" by Narasimharao Kondamudi, Susanta K. Mohapatra and Mano Misra, appears in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.