Caffeine hit: London's buses to be powered by coffee in effort to crack down on emissions

Rebecca Smith
The wheels on the bus will go round and round thanks to coffee
The wheels on the bus will go round and round thanks to coffee (Source: bio-bean)

It's not just London commuters who need their kick of caffeine to get started in the mornings.

From today, some of the capital's buses will need it too.

Waste coffee grounds will be used to help power some of London's buses in a new initiative from Shell and tech firm bio-bean, which will see a biofuel made partly from waste coffee grounds added to the London bus fuel supply chain.

Read more: Bendy buses could make a return to London

Bio-bean is collecting some of these waste coffee grounds from high street chains and factories. The average Londoner drinks 2.3 cups of coffee a day and all that consumption produces over 200,000 tonnes of waste a year - with much of that otherwise winding up in landfill.

How does it work?
  • The waste coffee grounds are dried and processed before coffee oil is extracted
  • Bio-bean works with its partner Argent Energy to process the oil into a blended B20 biofuel
  • The B20 biofuel then contains a 20 per cent bio-component with part coffee oil
  • Biofuel is added to the London bus fuel supply chain to help power the buses

Bio-bean’s founder Arthur Kay said the development was "a great example of what can be done when we start to reimagine waste as an untapped resource".

Transport for London has been looking into biofuels as a way to help tackle transport emissions, and bio-bean said buses will be able to be powered on the fuel without the need for modifying it.

So far, 6,000 litres of coffee oil have been produced, which bio-bean said could help power the equivalent of one London bus for a year.

Sinead Lynch, Shell UK country chair, said: "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.”

It comes amid a greater London-wide push to help tackle emissions and improve air quality. Last November, London mayor Sadiq Khan has unveiled the capital's first double-decker hydrogen bus as part of a commitment to phase out diesel buses.

And in March, the capital's first low emission bus zone was launched in one of the most polluted areas of London: Putney High Street.

The clean bus zone runs 145 buses on seven scheduled routes and will now be serviced by cleaner buses in a drive to slash nitrogen oxide emissions.

The route, running from Putney Station to Putney Bridge Road, is the first of 12 new low emission zones to be introduced at air quality problem areas. It was followed in October by the Brixton and Streatham zones, with another 10 being delivered by 2020.

Read more: Sadiq Khan unveils London's first hydrogen double-decker bus

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