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Sunday, July 3, 2022

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Used coffee grounds could help with global warming


Thanks to modern technology, everyday waste products are being repurposed to help combat global warming.

Used coffee grounds mixed with potassium hydroxide are able to absorb up to 7 percent of its weight in methane, potentially saving the earth from the harmful greenhouse gases, according to South Korea’s Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST).

Atmospheric chemistry professor Robert Talbot spoke to the Houston Chronicle in regards to the methane leak near Arlington last July.

“Methane is an important and strong greenhouse gas,” Talbot said. “It is contributing to global warming.”

UNIST researchers discovered a new way to absorb methane from the atmosphere that is sustainable, cheap and innovative.

Coffee grounds are soaked in potassium hydroxide, a common ingredient in household soft soaps and some vegetable oils. After being heated between 700 and 900 degrees Celsius, the coffee grounds turn into sponges that collect methane.

“I usually just throw my (coffee grounds) away,” finance junior Arnel Bitinovic said.

Of the 9 to 11 billion pounds of coffee produced every year, nearly half ends up as waste.

While most people like Bitinovic see coffee grounds as just waste, researchers are proving their worth.

According to the online journal Nanotechnology, methane is traditionally stored in compressed gas cylinders that are considered dangerous and heavy. The journal reports that the activated carbon derived from spent coffee grounds (are) for stable methane storage.

Costing less than a cup of coffee, this inexpensive way of capturing methane can provide a safe way to store this particularly dangerous greenhouse gas.

“If it’s natural and doesn’t produce more carbon (or methane) emissions, then yeah, why not (reuse coffee grounds in this way),” education graduate student Christina Valentiner said.

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