Green Mountain Uses Coffee to Brew Up Energy

by | Dec 30, 2011

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters – the firm behind the Keurig brand single-serving coffee brewers – is working with University of North Dakota researchers and bioenergy specialist Wynntryst LLC on a project aimed at utilizing the waste from its coffee processing plant to produce energy.

The university’s Energy & Environmental Research Center is working with the two Vermont-based companies to develop a gasification power system fueled by coffee residues, plastic packaging, paper, cloth or burlap, and the Keurig single-serve plastic cups (pictured). Green Mountain has a goal this year to reduce waste-to-landfill tonnage by 2 percent per sales dollar compared to the prior year.

EERC and its partners will try to use its advanced fixed-bed gasifier system to turn the complex mixture of waste and into clean synthetic gas, or syngas. The syngas will then either be utilized in an internal combustion engine or a fuel cell for efficient production of electricity and heat or be converted to high-value biofuels or chemicals, EERC says. Pilot-scale tests will evaluate the quality of syngas that can be produced from the Green Mountain waste.

The project is an extension of work performed by the EERC for NASA, which explored the conversion of waste from a space station and future Martian and lunar bases into heat and power. The system has already produced power by gasifying forest residues, railroad tie chips, turkey litter, and other biomass feedstocks, according to EERC.

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