Check Out This Great New Use for Coffee Grounds

Over the years, coffee drinkers have come up with some pretty creative ways to use their coffee grounds. Our grandmothers and mothers fertilized their gardens and kept pests away with coffee grounds. Pet owners have deployed them to repel fleas. And who among us hasn’t used coffee grounds to neutralize odors?

There is a new and exciting way to use coffee grounds that is just now getting attention. What is it? Coffee grounds – or more specifically the oil extracted from them – can be added to plastics to create a stronger, more durable product. Researchers say this is exciting news because the oil is a waste product of a waste product. There is no market for it, so it normally goes to waste.

Making PLA Better

Polylactic acid (PLA) is a thermoplastic product derived from renewable sources. Corn starch is one of the more common materials used to produce PLA. According to a 2016 market research report produced by Ceresana, PLA is one of the most commonly used bio plastics in the healthcare industry. It is used to create a variety of medical supplies and equipment.

Despite its widespread use and durability, PLA can be difficult to work with in a 3D printing environment. Adding the oil from coffee grounds solves that problem. The oil makes PLA much easier to work with, thus facilitating 3D printing of all sorts of plastic medical supplies. It is all rather fascinating.

How They Do It

To make it all work, oil is extracted from used coffee grounds through a fairly simple process. That oil is then transformed into a bio diesel, which is subsequently introduced to liquid PLA. The combined materials form a string-like plastic that is inserted into a 3D printer along with a resin. The 3D printer creates the desired object by placing layer upon layer of the plastic thread in place.

Most exciting is that researchers have been able to increase the strength of PLA by some 400% just by adding coffee oil at a ratio of 20% by volume. That is significant, to say the least. Who knew that a little bit of coffee oil could do so much for a bio plastic?

Researchers think their discovery could reach well beyond the medical equipment industry. They see an entirely new market for enhanced PLA, especially in sporting goods. Time will tell if that new market comes to fruition.

More Than Just a Beverage

The more we learn about coffee, the more we come to understand that it is more than just a beverage. Coffee is truly a wonder substance with many applications outside the kitchen. Hopefully the new, coffee-enhanced PLA will prove just how versatile coffee is.

In the meantime, we invite you to contact us here at Galaxie Coffee to learn how we can service your office with a full range of coffees, teas, juices, and breakroom supplies. We are the greater New York area’s number one source for all things coffee.