Submitted by: Fundacion En Torno
Implemented country: Colombia
Title: Bioethanol from Coffee Waste for more Quality of Life and a Greener Environment
Humberto Mazuera, his wife and four children live in the Cauca Valley of Columbia. Humberto is a specialist in environmental management and forestry engineering. He is also the director of the Fundación Entorno environmental organization. Columbia produces a lot of coffee, which is good for the economy but a burden on the environment, especially for the rivers where all the highly polluted production waste material ends up. Humberto Mazuera had a great idea for how to alleviate these problems, to which he has been devoting all his time and energy: He found a way to turn all these waste products into bioethanol even before they reach the rivers. He entered his idea in the IDEAS competition and was one of 26 winners. Humberto’s award came with 192,000 US$, which he has been using as a financial springboard for his path-breaking recycling project during the last two years together with his son Oscar, who is a specialist for renewable energies.
Coffee-waste recycling for ethanol production – a novel idea, and with a micro-system that is built in an affordable way but functions like a large system. Its capacity is at 800 to 1,000 liters of ethanol a day made from 8,000 to 12,000 liters of coffee sludge, a brown, mushy and highly polluting substance from washing coffee beans. Up until now these suds ended up in the River in the Cauca Valley and ruined everything alive. 18,000 hectares of coffee plantations grow along its banks, which caused Mazuera quite a bit of distress. Now everything has changed. Polluting coffee sludges are turned into bioethanol which is useful for everyone because the ethanol runs a 20-25 5kW generator that supplies the local population and the farmers with power. It is used for cooking and as fuel. And the remains of the distillate is used as fertilizer and feed supplement. Another advantage is that the ethanol doesn’t cause any competition for food. This system works in all coffee-producing countries.
Mazuera is convinced that we can only successfully protect the environment if every single one of us makes some sort of a contribution. This is why he would like to share his recycling system with everyone. So he goes and talks to the coffee farmers and convinces them. There is still much for him to do because there are 1,900 coffee farmers in Sevilla and Caicedonio along the Rio Pijao. There is much to be achieved the next five years. 21.6 million liters of coffee sludge and 3.6 million cubic meters less polluted water long the lower reaches of the Rio Pijao need to be processed. There are three plants with a total output of 1.8 million liters of ethanol preventing more unnecessary CO2. Better harvest yields and affordable clean energy create more income. The local drinking water supplier, Acuavalle, is now offering support because clean drinking water is their business.
“Never desist from dreams. Just try to see the signs that lead us to them….”