A new biofuel, which contains part coffee oil, is being added to the London bus fuel supply chain where it can be used without the need for modification. Matthew Stock reports.
London buses just got a little bit greener... with waste coffee grounds helping to power them. Green energy company bio-bean is collecting waste grounds from high street chains and factories. These are dried and processed to extract coffee oil which is then blended with regular diesel. SOUNDBITE (English) ARTHUR KAY, FOUNDER OF BIO-BEAN, SAYING: "Bio-bean has created a B20 fuel which is 20 percent bio-diesel as part of a broader mineral diesel mix. The real driver for this is to make a fuel that's useable within existing engines. So the key thing with bio-bean what we're trying to do is deliver fuels that can work at scale today... And today, with the support of Shell, we're announcing the first ever bus network powered by waste coffee grounds." The average Londoner drinks more than 2 cups of coffee a day... leaving some 200,000 tonnes of leftover grounds a year. Normally this ends up in landfill, but bio-bean and partners Argent Energy are giving it a new lease of life. This begs the question: is there enough coffee to power all the buses? SOUNDBITE (English) ARTHUR KAY, FOUNDER OF BIO-BEAN, SAYING: "The answer is: not entirely. Because even if we got all of the waste coffee ground in London - about 200,000 tonnes a year, a huge amount of waste, but also our buses use a lot of energy as well, so even if we got all the waste coffee ground in London it would be enough to power roughly one-third of London's bus network using a B20 blend. So, a significant contribution, but it's not going to solve everything in one go." With support from Shell, bio-bean is looking to ramp up production of their coffee biofuel. And with millions of tonnes of waste grounds produced globally each year... they hope coffee could be just the tonic for cutting carbon emissions.