Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Coffee Waste to Manufacture Biodiesel

I have fond memories of my parents' second home on Monteith Road in Madras, just a hundred or so yards away from the Coffee Board's offices. The street was lazy and my friends would come over and we would go walking towards the Rajaratnam Stadium in the evenings after class, practically every day. This, of course, was long before Madras became Chennai and that once lovely city began to stink from what has become its typical smell - a blend of the stink of rotting sewage and untreated vehicle exhausts.

Autoblog Green has some information that is partly positive - three scientists, all of Indian origin, working at the University of Nevada (a good state for the Renewable Energy Sector) have figured out a way to make biodiesel from coffee grounds which are actually waste which does not do coffee any good as far as taste is concerned. They estimate that their process could help manufacture 340 million gallons of biodiesel a year: http://www.autobloggreen.com/2008/12/08/used-coffee-grounds-could-be-used-to-make-biodiesel/

I have smelled the exhaust from biodiesel cars and it is far less irritating than the smell of fossil diesel. That said, I would like to see electric cars and trucks become more popular than merely tinkering with diesel or vegetable products to manufacture biodiesel. However, anything that makes the air around us even slightly cleaner is a big plus. I do hope that the Indian government gets its head out of its collective posterior and looks seriously at this use for coffee grounds. The country produces a huge amount of coffee after all and this could be a useful byproduct that reduces dependence on the Middle East as far as keeping its trucks and cars is concerned.


Mohanakrishnan B said...

Chennai has been deteriorating day by day.The stagnant water from the rains has drained in many places but the slush still remains.Your good intentions are appreciated.However the authorities are busy.They have just dusted off the old `Beautify` Buckingham Canal Project from the early 1970`s with the avowed intention of turning it into the Venice of the east.I was about 5-6yrs old when the project was first initiated.If I remember correctly they turned the Cooum pink in colour and introduced boating trips.However the minute boats started moving the muck started surfacing and the tourists fled due to the stench.While you are going on about the advantage of photo voltaics,I read an artice in fp-online(I think I sent you a link)that photo-voltaic cells emit more green house gasses than fossil fuel derived energy.I dont know much about all this.Is there any truth to this or is this just slick PR from companies with vested interests?Any information would be helpful.

Mehul Kamdar said...


A lot of the comment that comes out of India on solar energy is complete bullshit. Some weeks ago I had written about some so-called authority called N N Sachitanand who talked about solar power with no mention of solar thermal energy or of thin film solar cells. If you take solar ell technology from fifteen or twenty years ago when the morons in government in India read their last technology review, yes, they were inefficient. Now you have companies with proprietary technologies by which you can print the photovoltaic components on a plastic sheet using a machine that is very similar to your home printer. DO this on a sticker and you can paste it to your roof. Check out www.nanosolar.com and some of my earlier entries about that company. The jokers who have their heads stuck in the sands (though I would prefer to think that they have them firmly ensconced in their nether anatomy instead) are simply out of whack with the current state of the art as far as solar technology is concerned.

As far as the Cooum is concerned, when I was in the 3rd and 4th standards, the TN government stopped boat trips which you could earlier take all the way from Commander in Chief Road to Chingleput. When I left India, you could still see the old boat stop (a crumbling ruin at the time) if you walked past the Shivalaya Building towards Pantheon Road. By the time I was in school, the river had already started stinking too much for people to travel up and down it.