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Coffee beans hold secret to better biofuels

grass2.jpgGreenbang would like to donate her body to science, on the off chance boffins are trying to pin down the idiocy gene in the human DNA sequence. Greenbang’s fairly certain she’s got it.

What prompts this modest assertion? Greenbang’s inexplicable love of coffee from the cafe downstairs. She thinks it tastes vaguely like burnt toast, it makes her feel a bit queasy and the amount of caffeine in a single cup is enough to bring on palpitations that would sent the elderly across the River Styx. And yet, every morning, she wanders down, reusable cup in hand for a white with no sugar.

At least, it seems, all this coffee nonsense is benefitting the world – and not just in the hunt for the idiocy genes. Researchers from Leeds University, you see, have discovered that the process used to roast coffee beans, called torrefaction, could in fact increase the energy from biofuels crops.

The scientists tested what happened if energy crops willow, canary grass and agricultural residue wheat straw to see how torrefaction affected them. Apparently,after undergoing this coffee roasting process the crops “needed less time and energy to heat to burning point, and also that they offered increased energy yields upon burning”.

Here’s PhD student Toby Bridgeman on the findings:

“Torrefaction is not currently used in the UK in either the agricultural or the energy sectors. But our paper shows that it has a lot of benefits, besides those to do with fuel handling, so we feel it’s definitely something we’d like to explore further.”

1 Comment

  • Mr. Sustainable
    Posted May 27, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    Imagine the holy grail of biofuel production, not unlike cold fusion, unlocking a huge source of clean(er) energy! I’m stoked!

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