TOKYO (Commodity Online) : Quake hit Japan is trying different things to boost non nuclear energy and the latest to this effect is using coffee grounds to use as biomass fuel in thermal power plants.
Japan’s Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd. is planning to use coffee grounds purchased from beverage companies to use as biomass fuel in a thermal power plant at its Kashima Steel Works in plant in Ibaraki Prefecture, reports Yomiuri Shimbun
Thermal power plants are playing a bigger role in the nation’s energy supply to cope with power generation capacity lost due to the March 11 earthquake and the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. Along with helping cope with expected power shortages this summer, Sumitomo Metal’s project will likely attract attention for reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
Sumitomo Metal plans to buy as much as 12,000 tons of coffee grounds a year from beverage makers, the sources said. The spent beans will be mixed with coal at a 1:99 ratio after being delivered to the power plant at the steelworks in Kashima, Ibaraki Prefecture.
Coffee grounds burn easily but give off less heat than coal, which is why so much more coal than coffee is used in the mix.
Coffee grounds are plant matter and emit CO2 when burned. However, since the CO2 released when the grounds are burned was initially absorbed by the plants from the atmosphere, there is no net change in the amount of CO2 in the environment. According to the sources, Sumitomo Metal will reduce its CO2 emissions by 7,000 tons a year by using coffee grounds at the thermal plant, the same as generated annually by about 1,500 households.
Sumitomo Metal sells the electricity generated at its plant to Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the stricken nuclear power station. The plant has a capacity of 470 megawatts, enough to supply all the households in Ibaraki Prefecture. Besides compost, there are few other uses for coffee grounds. A beverage maker said the firm basically gives the grounds away. Sumitomo Metal also expects its use of coffee grounds to reduce power generation costs.
According to the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization, Sumitomo Metal’s project will be the first time a large power generation facility has used coffee grounds as fuel.