Perk up your day

Researchers from the University of Nevada, Reno, discovered that coffee can be turned into an alternative fuel other than caffeine: biodiesel, reports Scientific American. That means you can have your coffee and drink it too. Using coffee grounds given to the team by Starbucks, material scientist Mano Misra and his colleagues found old grounds work fine. Even after being brewed, roughly 15 percent of the weight of dried coffee grounds is oil, which, much like palm and soybean oil, can be converted into biodiesel. Even more beneficial, coffee grounds are not a food source, like palm oil and soybeans.

Since more than 16 billion pounds of coffee are produced globally every year, according to the USDA, Misra estimates that the grounds could be used to make as much as 340 million gallons of biodiesel, which has the advantage of smelling like a fresh cup o’ Joe.

Apparently the antioxidants in coffee act as a natural preservative for the fuel, preventing it from going bad like other biofuels and petroleum can. The team hopes to set up a pilot plant to convert grounds into biodiesel next year and estimate that, for its part, Starbucks in the U.S. alone could turn a profit of $8 million a year from the process, assuming that both the biodiesel and leftovers of the process can be sold. According to the  U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. alone burns 40 billion gallons of diesel a year, meaning that converting all the grounds in the world wouldn't even contribute 1 percent of U.S. diesel consumption, but it’s an interesting wake up call.