Coffee cups into biofuels?

The article Fueling up: researchers turn discarded coffee cups into bio fuel and U of M researchers look to convert Tim Hortons cups into bio fuels mentions that professors Dr. David Levin and Dr. Richard Sparling at University of Manitoba have been collecting coffee cups from various brands to check if they can be converted into bio fuel like ethanol. They started out the project with substrates like hemp and straw. They tried it on coffee cups and it actually works! So far, cups from Tim Hortons has worked the best, with fuel being produced at a higher pace. They have been treating coffee cups with bacteria that eats cellulose. They are not sure why Tim Hortons cups work best as opposed to that from Starbucks and other coffee shops and so one of their goal is to figure out what makes them different. This seems like a nice source of bio fuels which not only solves the problem of food competition but also controls environmental pollution since some of these coffee cups are not recyclable. The only drawback to this is that vast consumption of coffee is required to meet the demands of bio fuels. So far, they have not tried it on the bio reactor to get a sense of how much coffee cups would be needed to produce enough bio fuels that can run a car but they plan to do this soon. This research also helps them understand the bacteria more which can be potentially be used in other substrates such as newpapers and other paper products.


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