Scientists Use Recycled Coffee Grounds to Make Greener Roads

Scientists Use Recycled Coffee Grounds to Make Greener Roads
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Coffee, the wind beneath our wings and the super highway beneath our feet.  

People love their coffee — which means millions of tons of used grounds end up in a landfill every year, according to New Scientist. But researchers at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia have converted this waste into an alternative material for cement. 

Source: Giphy

The researchers combined the used coffee grounds with industrial waste by-products from the production of steel and combustion of coal to create a sustainable construction material through a geopolymerization process, according to the study.

They conducted this test using spent coffee grounds from the trash cans in Melbourne cafes; the resulting material was "strong enough" to be used as a road subgrade, the layer that provides the foundation beneath the road's surface, New Scientist reported.

"We estimate that the coffee grounds from Melbourne's cafes could be use to build 5 kilometers of road per year, said one of the researchers, professor Arul Arulrajah, New Scientist reported. "This would reduce landfill and the demand for virgin quarry materials." 

And that's just looking at Melbourne coffee waste — imagine tapping into the world's generated grounds. 

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Melanie Ehrenkranz

Melanie is a writer covering technology and the future. She can be reached at melanie@mic.com.

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