Arthur Kay, founder Bio-bean

For years coffee has been energising our morning commute, and today – thanks to the power of collaboration - it is helping to fuel London buses too.

Drinking over 20 million cups of coffee a day, Londoner’s can’t get enough of the stuff. However consumption on that scale brings with it a lot of waste. 200,000 tonnes of grounds are produced by the capital alone each year. Where some might see an issue of waste, bio-bean’s Arthur Kay saw potential.  

While studying, Arthur was determined to look differently at coffee culture and in particular the process of collecting and using coffee grounds. High in calories, he recognised the energy potential it offered and the role it could play as a residential and industrial fuel source; instead turning waste into a valuable resource. The result is bio-bean, today creating a coffee-derived B20 biofuel on a scale large enough to help power some of London’s buses -  one of the most iconic and busy bus networks in the world.

So how does bio-bean turn coffee into biofuel? The company’s factory can recycle 50,000 tonnes of waste coffee grounds every year - sourced via partnerships with high street coffee shops and factories across the UK, and uses it to extract coffee oil. Blended with other fats and oils to create a 20% biocomponent, this is then mixed with mineral diesel to create a coffee-derived B20 biofuel.  

London bus driving past the Houses of Parliament

Without modification, bio-bean’s biofuel is placed directly into select London buses, providing a smarter solution to the inevitable waste product of a metropolitan city. By rethinking waste, we can continue to decrease emissions from the transport sector through innovations in second-generation biofuels.

The potential of this for a brighter energy future is huge. Coffee makes up a component of the bio-fuel used in selected London buses today. But as a pure-blend, the 6,000L of coffee oil provided in this project by bio-bean would be enough to help power a bus for a year. What’s more, London produces enough waste coffee grounds to create a pure-blend B20 biofuel – made from coffee oil and mineral diesel – on a scale large enough to help fuel around a third of the London bus network.

So there it is. A simple coffee bean can transform your morning and now it could also help change the world. By collaborating to support bright energy solutions, we can together create a cleaner and brighter energy future.

All it takes is an idea.

Visit the Shell LiveWire website to find out more about how Shell is supporting bright entrepreneurs 

More in make the future

How stories can light up lives

For people living off grid, sustainable light solutions like the GravityLight can help transform lives and inspire imaginations.

Britain wakes up to the energy of coffee

Coffee that could also produce energy to help power the planet.