PITTSBURG, Ks. — Many mornings start with a cup of coffee. In fact, it’s the drink of choice for 150 million Americans every day.

Besides waking you up, it could also hold the key to creating a more sustainable future.

This was the basis for a masters project at Pittsburg State University, a project which has now opened a number of possibilities to help potentially reduce the two billion tons of waste the world sees every year.

“Most waste is dumped into the land, river, ocean, so it can cause severe environment depletion, so as a researcher we try to find an effective way to treat the waste,” says Jonghyun Choi, Pittsburg State University Masters Student.

Something as simple as a cup of coffee could be the answer, at least according to scientists at the Kansas Polymer Research Center.

“Most people like coffee,” says Choi.
“The waste coffee is kind of the trash, so we came up with the idea, how do we use the wasted coffee grounds to convert it.”

Once this bean is ground up and used for your drink, the grounds can then be placed into a battery that can store an impressive amount of energy to fuel things like electric vehicles in the future.

So this has researchers at PSU looking into other options of fuel as well.

“If we can use coffee grounds, we can use virtually anything,” says Dr. Tim Dawsey, KPRC Director. “The waste, the by-products, those are all things we can use to make potential electrodes for batteries.”

KPRC is now looking to nature to provide a new power source, more specifically the maple leaf.

“Why would you just burn that, that’s full of materials, so why don’t we set up systems and look at how it can be used,” says Dawsey.

Thanks to the carbon found in organic materials, a new form of recycling is on the horizon, with batteries lasting over 10 years and 10,000 charging cycles.

“We’re getting lots of contacts from across the nation around what can we do around bio-based content in our materials, can we recycle materials,” says Dawsey.
“We don’t want it going into the landfills, we certainly don’t want it going into the oceans. It is important for us to keep a clean environment.”