The “COFFEE BIN” concept: centralized collection and torrefaction of spent coffee grounds

Abstract

Spent coffee grounds are the moist solid residues of coffee brewing and in most cases, the disposal is done without any intermediate valorization actions for materials and energy recovery. State-of-the-art applications include extraction of the liquids and application of high-temperature pyrolysis. Both strategies have significant potential but have also some disadvantages (extensive pre-treatment, high costs) when applied on a large scale. This study highlights the lack of mild pyrolysis valorization strategies and presents the idea of the “COFFEE BIN.” Separated spent coffee grounds are collected, dried, and thermally treated. The optimal pyrolysis conditions were identified and product characteristics and the mass balances were assessed. Elemental analysis, thermogravimetric analysis, physisorption analysis and higher heating value (HHV) determination was performed for the characterization of the carbonaceous products. The torrefied coffee grounds returned solid yields from 78 to 83%, which are significantly higher than in other cases of conventional biomass and heating values of 24–25 MJ/kg. Higher temperature pyrolysis did not sustain the advantage of increased returned mass yields and the adsorbance potential of all the carbonaceous products was lower than 25 cm3/g. The study highlighted that spent coffee grounds—due to the nature of their production process via roasting—can be suitable for torrefaction because of the high recovered solid yield and the high energy density. The results will be used for the development of a collection scheme for spent coffee grounds in a big municipality of Athens (Greece).

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Correspondence to Stergios Vakalis.

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Vakalis, S., Moustakas, K., Benedetti, V. et al. The “COFFEE BIN” concept: centralized collection and torrefaction of spent coffee grounds. Environ Sci Pollut Res 26, 35473–35481 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-019-04919-3

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Keywords

  • Pyrolysis
  • Sustainable waste management
  • Thermogravimetric analysis
  • Circular economy
  • Waste valorization
  • Mass balances