Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Espresso to go!

Good news for ecco-friendly Italians, if you want to be green in Italy’s green heartland it could soon be possible with the help of the humble coffee bean. Where the Italian breakfast, normally consists of a small, strong coffee, you will soon be able to drive to work on an espresso too.

Scientists at the University of Nevada in Reno have created biodiesel by processing the ground coffee beans left over from making all those lattes, cappuccinos and macchiatos. The remains from the coffee making process when put through a simple extraction unit released up to 20% oil. This compared favourably with other biofuel producing crops like rape seed, soybeans and palm oil.

If was found to be an easy and cheap process to establish and also generated antioxidants useful in preserving the fuels stability. There will also be an economic benefit, as the coffee leftovers are just thrown into landfill sites, however once the oil has been extracted it is possible to produce fuel pellets and compost, so nothing is wasted.

Here in Italy with such a high consumption of coffee, and even the smallest village having a café bar, the raw material should be in plentiful supply. So soon we could be pulling up at an Umbrian bar for a cappuccino and an espresso to go for the car.