And according to The Guardian, UK scientists thinking beyond coffee have created a fuel cell that not only removes contaminants from wastewater, but creates electricity in the process.
Funded by the UK government and led by the University of Surrey systems microbiologist Dr. Claudio Avignone Rossa, researchers from the UK worked with Colombian counterparts to create a biome-based fuel cell to create energy from the waste in water used during “the washing of coffee seeds, or beans, and during the water-intensive process of making instant coffee.” While coffee has been used as a biofuel before, the article notes that this is the first time it has created electricity.
The hungry little microbe pooping out power was originally found in the “sludge from wastewater treatment plants;” it just so happens to also be readily available on Colombian farms. “Supply is not a problem,” Dr. Avignone Rossa tells The Guardian.
The new fuel cell is a double whammy: it’s eco-friendly and financially positive for producers, two big issues in the coffee world. And while their current electrical output is small, this is a pretty big first step toward easy and cheap access to power. It’s not like electric cars started out getting over 300 miles on a single charge; it took time, research, and interested parties. This fuel cell may prove to be more than just a building block. It may be a cornerstone.
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