Sep 2, 2015

Used Coffee Grounds Can Store Methane [Popular Science]

Popular Science:  The damp coffee grounds sitting alone and forgotten in the basket of your coffee maker have the potential to save the world. (You forgot to clean the coffee maker, didn't you? Go ahead. We'll be here when you get back.)

Yes, those coffee grounds, the ones that you so callously tossed in the trash (or composted, or turned into a DIY project) have the potential to store substantial amounts of methane.

In a new paper published in Nanotechnology, researchers report that heating coffee grounds with potassium hydroxide creates a material that can store methane. Methane is an incredibly potent greenhouse gas, much stronger than carbon dioxide. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere trap heat from the sun, leading to climate change.

Researchers have been looking at ways to store methane for quite some time. With this new method, the treated coffee grounds can store up to seven percent of their weight in methane. As an added bonus, the storage is also stable at room temperature, between 58 and 94 degrees Fahrenheit (288 to 308 Kelvin).

And really, they just used normal, spent coffee grounds (Kirkland 100% Colombian coffee, dark roast fine ground). The researchers hope that one day, this method can be used to either store methane and keep it from getting into the atmosphere, or as a building block for methane or hydrogen fuel cells, which could power cleaner, greener cars. Someday, both you and your car might run on coffee!

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