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London buses powered by coffee

Biofuel provides a cleaner, more sustainable energy solution for vehicles across London’s network by decreasing emissions

Kay: "a great example of what can be done when we start to reimagine waste"
Kay: "a great example of what can be done when we start to reimagine waste"

Shell is collaborating with its LiveWIRE investment programme alumnus bio-bean to power some of London’s buses using a biofuel made partly from waste coffee grounds.


The collaboration is part of Shell’s Make the Future energy relay, which aims to support entrepreneurs turning energy innovations into a positive impact for communities around the world.


The B20 biofuel comprises a 20 per cent bio-component which contains part coffee oil. The biofuel is being added to the London bus fuel supply chain and will help to power some of the buses, without need for modification.


Biofuel provides a cleaner, more sustainable energy solution for buses across London’s network by decreasing emissions.


“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 enable true progress,” said Sinead Lynch, country chair, Shell UK.


“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.”


The average Londoner drinks 2.3 cups of coffee a day which produces more than 200,000 tonnes of waste a year, much of which would otherwise end up in landfill, with the potential to emit 126m kg of CO2. bio-bean works to collect some of these waste coffee grounds from high street chains and factories.


The grounds are dried and processed before coffee oil is extracted. bio-bean works with its fuel partner Argent Energy to process this oil into a blended B20 biofuel. Six thousand litres of coffee oil have been produced, which if used as a pure-blend for the bio-component and mixed with mineral diesel to form a B20, could help power the equivalent of one London bus for a year.


bio-bean founder Arthur Kay won Shell LiveWIRE UK’s innovation award in 2013 and the London mayor’s entrepreneur programme in 2012 with his ideas about turning coffee waste into fuel. bio-bean has since gone on to produce biomass pellets and briquettes called coffee logs, before this latest biofuel innovation.


“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 to power London’s buses for the first time,” added Kay.


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