Thursday, February 25, 2016

Victoria's Green Matters - 25th February 2016

Deal With IT's Secretary Victoria Nicholls writes a regular column in the East Kent Mercury:

It is always great to hear about a process that takes waste products and turns them into something useful – a great example of a circular economy. There is a company in Cambridgeshire called ‘Bio-bean’ that collects the waste coffee grounds from cafes, shops and even a producer of coffee and turns them into usable products.

When any kind of coffee is made, hot water is passed over coffee beans. This extracts the flavour and the caffeine; the remainder is waste and is usually thrown away. At Bio-bean, the waste grounds are refined by a biochemical process which extracts the oil – about 20% of the weight – and the rest is made into pellets and briquettes. The extracted oil is known as second generation or advanced biofuel because it is produced from a waste product. The oil is blended with mineral diesel and the pellets are sold in one tonne bags for use in biomass boilers which heat family homes, airports, offices or supermarkets. A single bag is enough to heat a home for a year. Some of Bio-beans customers supply the waste coffee beans and also use the pellets to heat their premises. This creates a closed loop system where there is no waste.

There are some 5 million tonnes of biofuel pellets used in biomass boilers around the UK but only 50,000 tonnes are produced here. The rest are imported from abroad, mostly from the USA. Bio-bean hopes to be producing many more tonnes by the end of the year.

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