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Helping to power London’s buses with coffee

Mon, 20 November 2017

Shell and bio-bean announce that together they are helping to power some of London’s buses using a biofuel made partly from waste coffee grounds.
We believe that cleaner energy solutions can come from anywhere. Gravity. Footsteps. Even the food we eat. All it takes is a bright idea. 
For years coffee has been energising our morning commute, and today – thanks to the power of collaboration - it is helping to fuel London buses too.

Drinking over 20 million cups of coffee a day, Londoners can’t get enough of the stuff. However, consumption on that scale brings with it a lot of waste. 200,000 tonnes of grounds are produced by the capital alone each year. Where some might see an issue of waste, bio-bean’s Arthur Kay saw potential.  
While studying, Arthur was determined to look differently at coffee culture and in particular the process of collecting and using coffee grounds. High in calories, he recognised the energy potential it offered and the role it could play as a residential and industrial fuel source; instead turning waste into a valuable resource. The result is bio-bean, today creating a coffee-derived B20 biofuel on a scale large enough to help power some of London’s buses - one of the most iconic and busy bus networks in the world. 
So how does bio-bean turn coffee into biofuel? The company’s factory can recycle 50,000 tonnes of waste coffee grounds every year - sourced via partnerships with high street coffee shops and factories across the UK, and uses it to extract coffee oil. Blended with other fats and oils to create a 20% biocomponent, this is then mixed with mineral diesel to create a coffee-derived B20 biofuel.  
Without modification, bio-bean’s biofuel is placed directly into select London buses, providing a smarter solution to the inevitable waste product of a metropolitan city. By rethinking waste, we can continue to decrease emissions from the transport sector through innovations in second-generation biofuels. 
The potential of this for a brighter energy future is huge. Coffee makes up a component of the bio-fuel used in selected London buses today. But as a pure-blend, the 6,000L of coffee oil provided in this project by bio-bean would be enough to help power a bus for a year. What’s more, London produces enough waste coffee grounds to create a pure-blend B20 biofuel – made from coffee oil and mineral diesel – on a scale large enough to help fuel around a third of the London bus network . 
So there it is. A simple coffee bean can transform your morning and now it could also help change the world. By collaborating to support bright energy solutions, we can together create a cleaner and brighter energy future. 
This latest collaboration is part of Shell’s #makethefuture energy relay, which supports entrepreneurs turning bright energy innovations into a positive impact for communities around the world.

Sinead Lynch, Shell UK Country Chair, 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.”
Arthur Kay won a Shell LiveWIRE Grand Ideas Award in July 2013, was a finalist for the 2013 Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and was awarded the 2013 Innovation Award. 

All it takes is an idea. Submit yours to the Shell LiveWIRE Smarter Future Programme for your chance to win up to £30,000!

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