Researchers discover a new use for used coffee pods

New research suggests that used coffee pods could be recycled into filaments for 3D printers as part of the circular economy.

Researchers from Brazil and Britain have revealed the results of research that shows coffee pods are recyclable to make filaments for 3D printers.

Researchers have stated that this process is part of a “circular economy” where waste generated in one sector is transformed into resources used by other sectors.

The discovery was made following tests conducted by the Federal University of Sao Carlos, the State University of Campinas, and the Manchester Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom.

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We produced new conductive filaments and non-conductive ones from waste polylactic acids (PLA) from used pods of coffee machines. These filaments have many uses, such as conductive parts and sensors for machines, said Bruno Campos Janegitz.

In recent years, there have been concerns about what to do with used pods.

Researchers claim that “most consumers simply throw away used pods, especially when they are plastic.” According to the Sao Paulo State Technological Research Institute, “a cup or pod coffee is up to 14 times more harmful for the environment than a regular cup of coffee”.

Researchers developed electrochemical cells using non-conductive PLA filaments and electrochemical sensors made from conductive filaments by adding carbon to PLA.

Janegitz explained that the electrochemical sensors were used in order to determine the caffeine content of black tea and arabica.

“The production of filament is relatively easy. The non-conductive material is obtained by simply washing and drying PLA pods followed by hot extrusion. Carbon black is added to the heated PLA pods before extrusion in order to obtain conductive material. “The extruded material will be cooled, spooled, and then used to make the filament,” he added.

Researchers have described this process as a “good example of circular economy” in which waste generated by economic activities is not treated negatively for the environment but instead converted into resources that can be used to implement other actions.

Researchers claim that collected BeerBots are active for three additional wort fermentation cycles.

This research may be a game changer in the beverage industry. However, many companies still use traditional brewing techniques that have been perfected over generations. It will take time to see if Beerbots can make it into breweries around the world.


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