Using waste-based biofuel – Part 2
Turning ‘waste’ into biofuel is not only a sustainable method of managing it, but the process prevents tonnes of resources being lost to landfill.
While this is great for waste produced by households, farms, and industry, there are other waste materials which can be turned into biofuel.
Creating biofuel from plastic waste
Plastic waste, a hugely environmental polluting material, can also play a part in producing biofuels.
As an example, polystyrene foam remains intact for approximately 500 years. Even after that length of time, it breaks down into chemicals which last for many centuries.
A renewable energy start-up based in Australia, called Licella, has developed a new approach to waste processing. Licella is pioneering a method to transform end-of-life plastics into a bio-crude petroleum substitute.
Their ground-breaking technique dramatically reduces carbon emissions through extracting hydrogen from water and has a far lower carbon footprint than typical crude oil processing.
The start-up is partnering with Renewable Chemical Technologies Ltd (RCTL), and their goal is to build the world’s first commercial hydrothermal waste upgrading plant.
The plant will be developed and tested in Australia before the technology comes to the UK where it will be integrated into an existing facility.
Transforming coffee waste into cleaner biofuels
Purpose-grown feedstocks which are then used extract oils for biodiesels are controversial. Not only are they expensive, but they place an enormous demand on land and water.
Spent coffee grounds on the other hand, offer a low-cost alternative feedstock.
Despite this, most used coffee grounds are just dumped, with over 9 million tonnes sent to landfill in 2014. As our love of espressos, flat whites and lattes shows no sign of slowing down coffee grinds are a by-product with growing volumes which can be used to deliver significant environmental benefits over fossil fuel sources.
In 2017 London buses starting running on biofuel, including a proportion generated from coffee grinds, proving that the technology has main stream applications.
Lancaster University researchers have recently discovered a way to significantly improve process efficiency and increase biofuel from coffee’s commercial competitiveness.
Their new method vastly reduces both time and cost of oil extraction – needed for biofuel – making spent coffee grounds more commercially competitive
The process could be scaled up to produce 720,000 tonnes of biodiesel from spent coffee grounds every year!