Different fuel and vehicle technologies will be required for a successful and sustainable transition to a low-carbon future, and how the transport sector evolves amid growing global demand for energy will have a significant impact on efforts to address climate change, indicates energy giant Shell UK country chairperson Sinead Lynch.
In this vein, biofuel made partly from waste coffee grounds holds much potential for implementation in the local transport sector, she indicates.
As reported by Engineering News last month, the biofuel, called B20, is currently being used to fuel buses in London. It is the collaborative result of Shell and clean technology company bio-bean, which forms part of Shell’s #makethefuture energy relay. This initiative supports entrepreneurs by turning “bright” energy innovations into a positive impact for communities globally.
In collaboration with its fuel partner Argent Energy, bio-bean works to process coffee oil – extracted from dried, processed coffee grounds – into a blended B20 biofuel, comprising a 20% biocomponent, which contains part coffee oil, and is suitable for any B20-compatible engine.
“Owing to Shell’s support, bio-bean and Argent Energy have produced 6 000 ℓ of coffee oil, which, if it were to make a pure blend, would be enough to produce 30 000 ℓ of B20. This is about the equivalent of the fuel consumption of a London bus for one year,” notes Lynch.
The biofuel is being added to the London bus fuel supply chain and will help to power some of the buses without the need for modification.
While the biofuel has been supplied to integrated transport authority Transport for London (TFL) by bio-bean and Shell, Lynch indicates that the day-to-day running of all buses and routes will remain within TFL’s ambit of control.
The ongoing partnership with Shell is assisting bio-bean in realising its ambition of helping to power cities using coffee-derived fuel, reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and enabling the public and businesses to view waste as a valuable resource, enthuses Lynch.
She extols that this biofuel solution can contribute to meeting ever-increasing transport needs and, in a country like South Africa, which is heavily reliant on transport, this solution also presents an environment-friendly alternative.
“In South Africa, the potential for this solution is immense, given the more than three-billion cups of coffee that are consumed yearly. By rethinking our approach to waste, we can create smarter global cities and a brighter future for everyone.”
Lynch expounds that with regard to transport – which today accounts for about one quarter of the world’s total energy use and one fifth of global energy-related CO2 emissions – different types of vehicles and journeys have different requirements. Therefore, in order to meet these requirements, she emphasises that all forms of energy sources will be needed to help meet the growing demand for mobility while also helping to address CO2 emissions and air pollution.
“The need for a mosaic of fuel options to help meet demand in a low-carbon world means that Shell is committed to supporting and investing in alternative fuels.”
In this vein, Lynch elaborates that this biofuel offers environmental benefits over mineral diesel, and that using a renewable bio-blend instead of pure mineral diesel presents the first benefit.
She highlights a TFL 2015 policy document, which outlined the environmental benefits of using a biodiesel produced from waste oil. The results found a decrease in CO2 and particulate matter, as biodiesel has a positive effect on net CO2 emissions, owing to vegetable oil being renewable.
Also, the fact that it is waste oil being recycled means it is 85% more carbon efficient, compared with standard diesel. She notes that a B20 blend achieves a 10% to 15% CO2 reduction over standard diesel.
The second benefit is that this ensures less waste to landfill, as the coffee waste can be reused, she adds.
Lynch explains that biofuels are renewable-liquid transport fuels, which can be made from a broad range of biomass feedstocks. “Second-generation advanced biofuels, including those using coffee oil, use new technologies and processes and sustainable feedstocks, which can improve biofuels’ sustainability performance and offer greater CO2 reductions, compared with first-generation biofuels or mineral diesel.”
Shell is one of the largest blenders and distributers of biofuels globally, with the company having used about 9.5-billion litres of biofuels in the petrol and diesel it sold in 2016, Lynch highlights.