How coffee could power your car

LANCASTER (REUTERS) - Many of use coffee to fuel our day... but it can also be used to help power our car.

Companies are extracting oil from spent coffee grounds that are usually thrown into landfills,  and making it into biodiesel.

It's more environmental than growing soybean or corn to make fuel, but can be a lengthy, multi-stage process.

Lancaster University researchers say they've developed a more efficient method.

"Our novel process is in situ transesterification, which actually couples two processes - extraction and reaction - into one single step," said Ms Vesna Najdanovic-Visak, a chemical engineering lecturer at Lancaster University.

"Generally in chemical engineering when we couple two operations in one single step we usually get a lower processing cost as well as investment costs."

The fuel could go straight into our fuel tanks or more realistically be blended in small amounts with other biofuels.

"We are not claiming that we will save the whole planet and that we would provide the fuel that would supply everything in this world," said Ms Najdanovic-Visak. "For sure not. But it's one of those puzzles that could contribute to the overall picture - more than by one process solving the whole situation."

Coffee waste is already taken from cafes and restaurants for composting or anaerobic digestion.

The researchers hope it could one day be collected from individual households, along with our weekly rubbish.