London buses to be powered by waste coffee grounds

London buses will soon transport people around the capital using a fuel partly derived from waste coffee grounds, after Royal Dutch Shell and Bio-bean agreed a deal with Transport for London (TfL).

A new biofuel, which contains coffee oil, is being added to the London bus fuel supply chain. Working with partner Argent Energy, Bio-bean has produced enough coffee oil to power one bus for an entire year. The oil is used as a pure-blend for a 20% bio-component that is mixed with mineral diesel to form the B20 fuel.

Shell’s UK Country Chair Sinead Lynch said: “When it comes to clean energy, we are always looking for the next inventive solution. A good idea can come from anywhere, but with the scale and commitment of Shell, we can help enable true progress. We’re pleased to be able to support bio-bean to trial this innovative new energy solution which can help to power buses, keeping Londoners moving around the city – powered in part by their waste coffee grounds.”

Bio-bean has worked with Shell since winning the LiveWIRE Innovation Award in 2013. The company is already working with the likes of Costa and Network Rail to create a supply of waste coffee grounds.

With the average Londoner drinking 2.3 cups of coffee a day, more than 200,000 tonnes of waste is produced that would otherwise end up in landfill. Bio-bean estimates that this waste could emit up to 126 million kg of CO2.

Waste coffee grounds are dried and processed to extract the oil. Bio-Bean also offers bio-mass pellets and Coffee Logs, which can be used on stoves and open fires. Already, 15,000 homes across London are heated by waste coffee beans from Bio-bean.

“Our Coffee Logs have already become the fuel of choice for households looking for a high-performance, sustainable way to heat their homes – and now, with the support of Shell, bio-bean and Argent Energy have created thousands of litres of coffee-derived B20 biodiesel which will help power London buses for the first time,” Bio-bean’s founder Arthur Kay said.

“It’s a great example of what can be done when we start to reimagine waste as an untapped resource.”

Capital cleanse

The coffee-oil fuel builds into London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s plan to have London buses meet the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) standard by 2020. London has committed to procuring roughly 300 zero-emission buses by 2020, with 51 battery electric buses recently going into service.

Last year, Khan unveiled a hydrogen double-decker. More recently, plans were announced to create a full electric operation of two London bus routes by 2018.

These pledges were made to combat toxic air pollution levels in the capital, which breached the annual legal limit within five days of 2017.

Matt Mace

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