Can Your Coffee Habit Save Lives?
By Laura Hogg More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the NatuREport Blog Series
Welcome back to NatuREport! This week in the news – new research shows that the solution to the problem of toxic gases in the air might just be found in your daily cup of joe…
Great news, coffee drinkers! It turns out that your daily java is good for more than just the delicious aroma and the jolt of energy. A new study is showing that coffee grounds can actually absorb toxic gases such as hydrogen sulfide – a dangerous gas that makes sewers smell like rotten eggs. "When someone is exposed to high concentrations of H2S, the nose will stop detecting it," says Teresa Bandosz, author of the study. "There have been cases in which workers died of H2S exposure in sewer systems."
So how does coffee perform this superhero-like task?
The caffeine in the coffee contains high amounts of nitrogen, making it perfect as a fertilizer – and as a carbon filter to clean up the toxins. When mixed with water and zinc chloride and baked at a high temperature, the coffee grounds – now in a charcoal-like state – become full of pores that can capture harmful gases such as H2S.
Coffee isn’t the only natural substance used to clean out the air. Other natural materials, such as coconut shells, coal, and wood, are often used as carbon filters, but the process of adding nitrogen is costly. Coffee, on the other hand, comes with a naturally high level of nitrogen – making this both eco-friendly and cost-effective.
While this is great news for cleaning out the sewers – and potentially saving lives in the process – I have to wonder what other kinds of applications this technology could have. Obviously, we all need to be more careful about our carbon footprints, but think of the possibilities: what if this idea could be adapted into something that could trap greenhouse gases? If you pair this with the plastic-eating fungus, we could potentially be well on our way to a cleaner earth – using completely natural and organic means, to boot.
I’m imagining people in the future collecting their coffee grounds and bringing them to a processing plant that smells less like a sewer and more like your local Starbucks…
But that’s all speculation. I just like the idea that I could help clean up the air – one cup of coffee at a time.
What do you think? Do you eve reuse your coffee grounds as fertilizer? Do you think this technology has potential?