Tu continues this biodiesel research by focusing on the “Application of waste coffee grounds in biodiesel production steps: A preliminary study.” He explains, “The idea of this research is to recycle the waste coffee grounds and use them for: 1) oil extraction (as feedstock for biodiesel production), 2) crude biodiesel purification (after-extraction grounds as purification material) and 3) energy generation (by burning the grounds after purification).”
By using waste-derived materials, not only are production costs reduced but it also improves the sustainability of biodiesel production by minimizing the carbon footprints in water and land resources. For example, waste coffee grounds can be obtained at a much lower cost, as compared with soybean oil, while eliminating the irrigation water consumption and land use required for growing oil-crops.
Tu hopes that this affordable biodiesel will soon be more readily available in our daily life. Accompanying this availability is the improved air quality and better health condition for people everywhere. Therefore, this fuel benefits both the biodiesel industry and the average person’s living environment.
Tu reflects, “The NGSB student poster section offered a perfect opportunity for me to share my research, and more importantly, listen to the motivating thoughts of others, helping me to take my research a notch higher. Speaking with industry practitioners enabled me to learn the current technology updates and issues in the biodiesel industry, inspiring the research development for my PhD study.
Also, networking with people from industry allowed me to nail down what area of the biodiesel industry I will pursue for my future career development after graduation. My horizon was vastly broadened by attending various sessions to listen to the experts sharing their take on every integral piece of the biodiesel industry.”
Tu moves forward in his research with plans to: 1) optimize the operational parameters of oil extraction and biodiesel production step, 2) improve the performance of after-extraction waste coffee grounds as purification materials for crude biodiesel, and 3) combustion test waste coffee grounds (after purification step) to obtain the data on heat and electricity generation as well as the emission profile.
Since Tu’s research resides in a broad domain of utilizing waste-derived materials for biodiesel production, waste coffee grounds remains his primary focus. Yet, he also plans to continue his investigation of converting trap grease into biodiesel.
The revolutionary research efforts of Tu and environmental engineers everywhere will soon be leaving their “footprints” as they will undoubtedly bring us into a world of affordable and clean-burning fuels.
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