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Scientists create a way for coffee to save the world

Researchers find that waste coffee has the surprising potential to tackle global warming

Coffee lovers know how much joy and energy coffee can bring to them the morning, but are blissfully unaware of how their habit may have the ability to help the planet be greener. Scientists have found a whole new reason for everyone to love coffee.

coffee grounds

Waste grounds from expressing coffee have found a role with gardeners — as a mulch or to improve compost — but one of the latest pieces of research into how to kerb greenhouse gasses has revealed a new purpose for these leftovers.

Researchers at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), South Korea, have found a way for coffee grounds to trap harmful methane, removing it from the atmosphere.

By soaking waste coffee grounds in sodium hydroxide and heating them to 700-900°C in a furnace, a stable carbon capture material can be created in less than a day.

Cleaner than fossil fuels

Carbon capture materials can hold harmful gases, removing them from the surrounding environment. The process developed for coffee grounds to be able to do this could be quicker and less expensive than current processes which use pricier materials, as explained by one of the authors of the research, Christian Kemp:

“The waste material is free compared to all the metals and expensive organic chemicals needed in other processes – in my opinion this is a far easier way to go.”

Not only can the coffee grounds store methane, but in turn this can be used to burn as a cleaner alternative to fossil fuels. This opens up a new opportunity for a greener alternative to generate energy and power homes.

The discovery is said to have been triggered from a meeting over coffee discussing other projects:

“We were sitting around drinking coffee and looked at the coffee grounds and thought ‘I wonder if we can use this for methane storage?'”

With the world’s appetite for high quality coffee and trendy coffee shops continuing to grow, the research illustrates a feasible invention towards shifting energy’s reliance on fossil fuels.

Green energy deals

Although it may be a long time before any energy suppliers offer energy created from coffee grounds, a number of suppliers offer tariffs where 100% of the electricity you use is offset by green energy; the same amount of electricity you use is created from renewable sources and sent back to the grid.

If like many others you’re becoming increasingly conscious of being greener, these types of plans could be perfect and less costly than creating the infrastructure at home to generate your own electricity.

You may be surprised at how little the price difference there is between your current energy plan and a green deal — you can compare the energy market and find out if a green plan is right for you.