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Waste Coffee Grounds as an Energy Feedstock

Conference Paper June 2011

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Waste Coffee Grounds as an Energy Feedstock
1
A.Deligiannis*, 1A.Papazafeiropoulou, 1G.Anastopoulos, 1F. Zannikos.
1
Laboratory of Fuel Technology and Lubricants, School of Chemical Engineering , National
Technical University of Athens, Iroon Polytechniou 9, Athens 15780,Greece.

*Corresponding author: E-mail: delig04@gmail.com, Tel +30 2107723213, Fax: +302107723163

Abstract
Biodiesel is a renewable energy source produced from natural oils and fats, and is being used as a
substitute for petroleum diesel. However, biodiesel production is a fairly expensive process with its
feedstock comprising the major cost. For this reason the investigation for new attractive alternative
feedstocks is important. The aim of this study was to demonstrate the utilization of waste coffee
grounds as a potential new-low cost alternative feedstock for biodiesel production.
For this study, spent coffee grounds were collected from local coffee houses. The grounds were
dried in an oven at 105 C to remove moisture (mostly 25 wt%) and then the oil was extracted by
applying a soxhlet process. A low-boiling organic solvent such as n-hexane was used. Afterwards
the oil was separated from the solvent using a rotary evaporator and its physicochemical properties
were measured. The experimental results showed that the oil content of spent coffee grounds is
between 10-15 % w/w (on a dry weight basis). The oil was converted to biodiesel via
transesterification reaction. All the reactions were carried out at 65oC for 2 h with anhydrous
methanol in methanol-to-oil molar ratio, 9:1using sodium hydroxide (NaOH) as catalyst in amount
(1%). The conversion of coffee oil was found to be about 92 %. Finally, the quality parameters of
the produced biodiesel were determined according to the European standard EN 14214. The results
of the produced fatty acid methyl esters are very promising. Moreover, the biodiesel derived from
coffee oil possesses better oxidation stability than biodiesel from other sources, due to the
endogenous antioxidants it contains.
In addition, the waste solid remaining after the oil extraction can be utilized as compost as well as
fuel pellets. This work could offer a new perspective in the production of biofuels.
Keywords: Spent coffee grounds, Coffee oil, Biodiesel, Fatty acid methyl esters, Biofuels

1. INTRODUCTION

Investigations of alternative energy resources have been continuing widely because of increasing
dependence on petroleum products, energy crisis and environmental issues. Also, sulphur in Diesel
fuel has limited its usage extensively due to corrosion and environmental pollution. So, research and
development activities are forced to study clean and renewable energy investigations. The European
Community recommends using biodieselDiesel blends by increasing ratios in the countries. The
2003/30/EC directive forces fuel producers to use 5.75% of biodiesel in Diesel fuel mixtures. This
ratio is planned to increase, as an alternative fuel, has many merits. It is derived from a renewable,
domestic resource, thereby relieving reliance on petroleum fuel imports. It is biodegradable and
non-toxic. Compared to petroleum-based diesel, biodiesel has a more favourable combustion
emission profile, such as low emissions of carbon monoxide, particulate matter and unburned
hydrocarbons. Carbon dioxide produced by combustion of biodiesel can be recycled by
photosynthesis, thereby minimizing the impact of biodiesel combustion on the greenhouse effect.
Biodiesel has a relatively high flash point (150 C), which makes it less volatile and safer to
transport or handle than petroleum diesel .It provides lubricating properties that can reduce engine
wear and extend engine life. In brief, these merits of biodiesel make it a good alternative to
petroleum based fuel and have led to its use in many countries, especially in environmentally

Proceedings of the 3rd International CEMEPE & SECOTOX Conference 617


Skiathos, June 19-24, 2011, ISBN 978-960-6865-43-5
sensitive areas. However, biodiesel is more expensive than fossil fuels, which limits its applications.
The major production cost of biodiesel is from its feedstock [1]. The foremost problem that the
biodiesel industry faces nowadays is the availability of low-cost and good quality feedstock. To
meet this problem, industries use waste vegetable oil and grease and animal fats from poultry to
produce low-cost biodiesel [2,3]. In addition, researchers are developing certain crops with high oil
content just for the production of biodiesel. In this work, we have demonstrated that spent coffee
grounds can be a potential source for the production of biodiesel as well as fuel pellets. Coffee is
one of the largest agricultural products that are mainly used for beverages. According to the
international coffee organization, the worlds coffee production is about 120 billion bags (60 kg per
bag) per year [15].In the world, Greece is 12th country in consumption, with 5.5 kg/person per
year. The amount of oil in the coffee source varies from 11 to 20 wt % depending its types [4,5]. On
average, the spent coffee grounds contain 15% oil, which can be converted to a similar amount of
biodiesel using transesterification methods. Transesterification, which refers to a catalyzed chemical
reaction involving vegetable oil and an alcohol to yield fatty acid alkyl esters (i.e., biodiesel) and
glycerol. Triacylglycerols (triglycerides), as the main component of vegetable oil, consist of three
long chain fatty acids esterified to a glycerol backbone. When triacylglycerols react with an alcohol
(e.g., methanol), the three fatty acid chains are released from the glycerol skeleton and combine
with the alcohol to yield fatty acid alkyl esters (e.g., fatty acid methyl esters or FAME). Glycerol is
produced as a by-product. Methanol is the most commonly used alcohol because of its low cost and
is the alcohol of choice in the processes developed in this study. The biodiesel from coffee
possesses better stability than biodiesel from other sources due to its high antioxidant content
(which hinders the rancimat process) [6,7]The remaining solid waste can be utilized as fuel pellets.
A brief description on the extraction, transesterification, and purification process to produce
biodiesel from spent coffee grounds is reported here.

2. MATERIALS AND METHODS

2.1 Spent coffee grounds oil extraction

Spent coffee grounds were collected from local coffee houses. The grounds were dried in an oven at
105 C to remove moisture (mostly 18-45 wt%) and then the oil was extracted by applying a soxhlet
process. A low-boiling organic solvent such as n-hexane was used. The Soxhlet device temperature
was kept at 6570 0C. At the end of the process, the oil was separated from the organic solvent using rotary
vacuum evaporator, dried at 60 0C and weighed. Yield was calculated on dry weight basis. The
experimental results showed that the oil content of coffee grounds is between 10-15 % w/w (on a
dry weight basis).

2.2 Physicochemical parameters of coffee oil

The coffee oil was examined in order to evaluate its use either as a blendstock in automotive or
heating diesel fuel

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Table 1-Physicochemical properties of coffee oil
Property Units Test Coffee oil
method
Density (150C) g / cm ISO12185 0.9338
Kinematic mm / s ASTM 46.965
viscosity(40C) D7042
Gross calorific MJ/kg D 240 39.49
value
C.F.P.P C EN116 9
Cloud point C D2500 13
Sulphur mg / kg ISO20846 4.5
content
Iodine gI2/100g EN14111 82
number
Water content mg / kg EN12937 795.4
Acid value mgKOH / 14104 0.62
g

or as a suitable raw material for biodiesel production. Its major quality properties using standard test
methods are shown in Table 1.

2.3 Spent coffee grounds as compost


The waste solid remaining after the oil extraction can be utilized as compost on a dry weight basis.
Its major quality properties using standard test methods are shown in Table2.

Table 2-Analysis of compost


property units Coffee compost
Gross calorific MJkg-1 21.16
value
C w% 52.026
H w% 6.307
N w% 0.492
Ash w% 4.2
E.F tco2 TJ-1 90.15

2.4 Transesterification

The transesterificationreaction of coffee oil was carried out in a 500 mL spherical flask, with
anhydrous methanol in molar ratio methanol to oil 9:1, using sodium hydroxide (NaOH) as catalyst
in amount 1% (w/w). The reaction was carried out at 65 0C for 1h [8,9]. By the end of the
experiment the reaction mixture was transferred to a decanter for glycerol and methyl ester
separation, allowing glycerol to separate by gravity or 24h. Once the two phases were separated, the
excess alcohol in each phase was removed by flash evaporation at 90 0C. The methanol was
recovered and re-used. The purity level of the biodiesel has strong effects on its fuel properties [10].
Therefore, the methyl ester was purified by washing gently with three volumes of warm deionized
water to remove residual catalyst, glycerol, methanol and soap using a centrifuge. A small amount
of sulphuric acid (H2SO4) was used in the second washing to neutralize remaining soaps and other
catalyst impurities. The washed methyl ester is then dried over the heated anhydrous sodium
sulphate (Na2SO4). Solid traces from the methyl ester were removed with afiltration process.

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2.5 Coffee oil methyl ester analysis

The fuel properties of coffee oil methyl ester, along with the test methods adopted for the fuel
property analysis, are given in Table 3. Most of the fuel properties of the coffee methyl ester are
quite comparable to those of other methyl esters reported in the literature, and fulfil the European
Standard EN 14214
Table 3-Properties of coffee oil methyl ester
Property Units Test Coffee oil
method methyl ester
Density g / cm ISO12185 0.8943
0
(15 C)
Kinematic mm / s ASTM 5.612
viscosity(40 D7042
C)
Gross MJ/kg D 240 39.49
calorific
value
C.F.P.P C EN116 9
Cloud point C D2500 13
Acid value mg KOH / 14104 0.36
g
Sulphur mg / kg ISO20846 4.5
content
Flash point C EN22719 >120
Oxidation h EN14112 7.9
stability
Water mg / kg EN12937 255.6
content
Ester m/m % EN14103 81.28
content

2.6 Fatty acid composition of coffee oil methyl ester


Fatty acid composition of coffee oil methyl ester was determined by gas chromatography analysis.
The fatty acid profile of the methyl ester was identified and quantified as shown in Table 4.

Table 4- Fatty acid composition of coffee oil methyl ester

Fatty acid Chemical structure Weight %

Palmitic C 16 CH3(CH2)14COOH
33.99
Stearic C 18 CH3(CH2)16COOH
10.91
Oleic C 18:1 CH3(CH2)7CH=CH(CH2)7COOH
7.16
Linoleic C 18:2 CH3(CH2)3(CH2CH=CH)2(CH2)7COOH
23.27
Arachidic C 20 CH 3 (CH 2) 18 COOH 4.04

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3. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

3.1 Coffee oil characterization


The oil content of spent grounds coffee contained 15% on dry weight basis. This may result in
lower operation costs compared to some other oil seeds, such as soybeans and cotton seeds, which
have average oil contents of only 20% and 14%, respectively.
The two major quality parameters that influence the production process of biodiesel are the FFAs
and water content. Several studies showed that the raw oil acid value should be less than 1.0mg
KOH g-1 and that all raw materials should be anhydrous (water content <0.3%) [11,12]. If the above
requirements are not met it is still possible to produce biodiesel, but the overall yield of the reaction
is significantly reduced due to the deactivation of the catalyst and the formation of soaps.
In this study, the amount of FFAs measured in the oil was 0.62% while the water content of the oil
was795.4 mgg-1). Based on these properties, the selected catalyst for the reaction was NaOH and the
molar ratio of methanol to oil was 9:1.

3.2 Characterization of biodiesel


Property of proceeded methyl ester was done, in order to examine their quality parameters
according to the European standard EN 14214.
The standard for biodiesel states that the fuel should have a density between 860 and 900 g m-3.
Density is an important parameter for diesel fuel injection systems. The results obtained showed
that the produced methyl ester was within the specification limits.
For biodiesel to be used in diesel engines, the viscosity must be between 3.5 and 5.0 mm2 s-1. Spent
ground coffee oil methyl ester had a viscosity of 5.61 mm2 s-1. Viscosities above the specification
limit can be attributed to the incomplete reaction or to the inefficient purification steps of the
process, leaving glycerine in the ester phase.
Fuel contaminated with water can cause engine corrosion or may cause a reversion of fatty acid
methyl esters to fatty acids, which can lead to filter plugging [13]. Therefore, EN 14214 imposed a
maximum content of 500 mgg-1 of water in biodiesel. In this study, the produced methyl ester was
routinely dried over anhydrous sodium sulphate. The water content of coffee oil methyl ester was
255 mg kg-1, which was below the specification limits.
Combustion of fuel containing sulphur causes emissions of sulphur oxides, particulate matter and
can also lead to poisoning of post-treatment devices. The present result agree with the specification
limits of sulphur content [13,14].
One serious challenge for producers has been to ensure that the biodiesel produced remains stable
and usable for a sufficient period of time after it has been blended. The problem is that biodiesel is
more prone to oxidation than traditional diesel, which can cause engine problems such as blocked
fuel filters. Anti-oxidants exist that can help counteract this effect, but the challenge is matching the
best anti-oxidant to the fuel blend under consideration, as each biodiesel blend varies. The result
obtained showed that the produced methyl ester was 7.9 hours and overtook the specifications. The
biodiesel from coffee possesses better stability than biodiesel from other sources due to its high
antioxidant content.
The fatty acid profile of the methyl ester showed that it is composed primarily of palmitic and
linoleic acids with 33.99 wt% and 23.27 wt%, respectively. The other main fatty acids were stearic
(10.91 wt %) and oleic (7.16 wt %) acids. Lower proportions had arachidic acid with 4.04 wt%.

4. CONCLUSIONS
The aim of this study was to evaluate spent coffee grounds as a potential new-low cost alternative
feedstock for biodiesel production. Coffee oil was extracted and chemically converted via an
alkaline transesterification reaction to fatty acid methyl ester.The waste solid remaining after the oil
extraction can be utilized as compost(calorific value 21.16 MJkg-1) Although, coffee biodiesel has
very high oxidation stability and coffee oil is converted to biodiesel with high yield. This work
could offer a new perspective in the production of biofuels.

621
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