Did you know that grabbing your morning cup of coffee could do more than just perk you up? New research conducted by scientists at the University of Colorado has uncovered that your coffee grounds could have a second life– being repurposed into useful objects like disposable espresso cups and garden pots, all thanks to the magic of 3D printing.
Ben Coxworth from New Altlas reported that Michael Rivera, an assistant professor of computer science, along with his team, blended water, powdered cellulose, and xanthan gum with coffee grounds. The result? A compostable and food-grade paste that’s ready to be shaped using different molds.
Since the paste is eco-friendly, the plant containers crafted from it can be planted right in the soil. Plus, the material is recyclable. So, should one of the 3D-printed items outlive its usefulness, it can be ground back down to a powder and reborn as something new.
“You can make a lot of things with coffee grounds. And when you don’t want it anymore, you can throw it back into a coffee grinder and use the grounds to print again,” Rivera said.
Rivera’s team isn’t alone in their innovative use of coffee grounds. A sneaker brand and Australian researchers are also on board, exploring new and inventive ways to harness this resource.
Nonetheless, it seems the University of Colorado’s research is pioneering in melding this everyday waste material with 3D printing technology, which has been expanding its uses ever since the debut of the first printer back in 1981.
And this fusion of tech and food scraps might benefit the environment in multiple ways.
For starters, the research points out it could cut down on the energy and waste linked to some forms of 3D printing. It offers a substitute for plastics, which are known for shedding harmful toxins into our surroundings.
Additionally, coffee grounds left to break down in landfills emit methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming at a rate 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide.