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Sustainable Strategies for the Valorization of Coffee Grounds: An Integrated Analysis of Environmental and Economic Aspects

Grant number: 24/01232-7
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2024
Effective date (End): January 31, 2028
Field of knowledge:Engineering - Chemical Engineering - Chemical Process Industries
Principal Investigator:Kelly Johana Dussán Medina
Grantee:Sarha Lucia Murillo Franco
Host Institution: Instituto de Química (IQ). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de Araraquara. Araraquara , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:22/03000-0 - Obtaining high value-added bioproducts from a by-product of the coffee production chain, AP.PNGP.PI


As recognized by the United Nations, there is an urgent need to intensify research into technologies for converting agricultural and/or industrial waste into resources useful to society. The coffee production chain justifies special attention in this discussion, as global coffee production is estimated at 171.9 million bags of coffee beans in the 2020/21 harvest, and Brazil's production is estimated at about 47 million bags (1 bag = 60 kg). Brazil is the second largest consumer of coffee in the world. According to the Brazilian Coffee Industry Association (ABIC), 4.79 kg of roasted coffee will be consumed per capita in 2020. The preparation of beverages such as espresso or soluble coffee, or the extraction of soluble compounds from roasted coffee, whether at home or on an industrial scale, produces a solid residue known as spent coffee grounds. It is estimated that for every ton of green coffee processed in the industry, approximately 650 kg of spent coffee grounds are generated, and that for every kg of soluble coffee produced, 2 kg of spent coffee grounds are generated (with a moisture content between 60 and 70%). In this context, coffee and coffee waste, both in cultivation and in processing, contain large quantities of valuable high-quality molecules, such as polyphenols, polysaccharides, peptides and proteins, among others, justifying their valorization. With the rapid growth of coffee shops/cafeterias that has occurred in Brazil, the large generation of spent coffee grounds is inevitable. Reverse logistics then contributes as a solution to overcome this problem. Moreover, combined with the green concept, it not only increases the value of the spent coffee grounds, but also improves the quality of the environment around them. Instead of disposing of spent coffee grounds in the garbage, the ideal would be to recycle all coffee waste generated by cafeterias and/or industry and reintroduce it into the market as new sustainable products, generating profits and creating businesses and new jobs. With this intention, technologies should be created that allow the recycling of spent coffee grounds and their transformation into advanced biofuels and sustainable biochemicals in the world. In this sense, the main objective of this project is the inclusion of spent coffee grounds, one of the most common residues obtained in cafeterias and coffee processing industries, and currently discarded, as a lignocellulosic raw material to produce compounds of so-called green chemistry, that is, environmentally sustainable production, and of commercial interest, allowing a cascading valorization. This project will model the logistics management process of spent coffee grounds produced by coffee shops/cafeterias in the city of Araraquara/SP, as well as evaluate different scenarios of spent coffee grounds utilization from a technical, economic, and environmental point of view. Thus, it is expected to make a positive contribution to scientific and technological development within a broad concept of sustainability (environmental and socio-economic), allowing progress in the design of processes using lignocellulosic residues to produce high value added bioproducts.

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