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Next energy alternative? Coffee grounds

While a good strong cup of java may be just what’s needed for that long drive, what’s left behind can be used to fuel that road trip. In a study entitled Spent Coffee Grounds as a Versatile Source for Green Energy published by the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, coffee grounds can provide between 11 and 20% oil by weight, which can be refined into biodiesel fuel.

According to the study, a major barrier to wider use of biodiesel fuel is the lack of a low-cost, high-quality source, or feedstock for producing the fuel. The concentration of oil in spent coffee grounds compares favorably with rapeseed, palm and soybean oil.

Growers produce more that 16 billion pounds of coffee around the world each year, says the study. The used grounds remaining from the production of espresso, cappuccino and regular coffee usually wind up in the trash or find use as a soil conditioner. Scientists in the study suggest that spent coffee grounds can potentially add 340 million gallons of biodiesel to the world’s fuel supply.

Scientists collected spent coffee grounds from a multinational coffeehouse chain and separated the oil. They used an inexpensive process to convert 100% of the oil into biodiesel.

For those who love the fragrance of coffee more than they like drinking it, they’ll find that the fuel smells like coffee. But a major advantage, says the study, is that the resulting biodiesel fuel is more stable than traditional biodiesel due to the coffee’s high antioxidant content.

In addition, solids left over during biodiesel conversion process can still be used to produce ethanol or used as a compost, says the study. For more information, visit

Food safety: Fish and shellfish more troublesome than beef

While produce and beef have recently earned bad raps from the press for problems with foodborne illness, statistics compiled by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) show that an otherwise seemingly healthy food group may be more dangerous. With numbers crunched from CSPI’s database of foodborne illness, CSPI’s annual Outbreak Alert! reveals some startling statistics (see graph). Fish and shellfish are 29 times more likely to cause illness than dairy foods. After diary, the report shows produce to be the next safest category of food.

According to CSPI’s database, even when not adjusted for consumption, seafood outbreaks number 1,140-more than for any other category of food. Fin fish such as tuna, grouper, mahi mahi and salmon were linked to 694 of the outbreaks. Mollusks, including oysters, calms and mussels, were linked to 175 outbreaks. The rest were linked to shrimp, lobster, or foods such as crab cakes and tuna burgers.

While Vibrio bacteria and Noroviruses contributed to the above, naturally occurring toxins such as scombrotoxin and ciguatoxin account for a plurality of seafood outbreaks.

Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of food safety for CSPI, says a key part of the problem is that our food safety system is based on antiquated laws, including ones that are more than a hundred years old. “A hundred years ago we weren’t importing millions of pounds of seafood from Asia, nor were we repacking Mexican tomatoes and shipping them to 50 states,” she adds.

CSPI’s database includes nearly 5,800 outbreaks that occurred between 1990 and 2006 for which both the food and pathogen were identified. The data set has been published by CSPI for the last ten years and can be reviewed on its Website at

Ethernet makes the industrial connections

According to a recent report entitled Supply Side Analysis Reports, part of VDC Research’s Industrial Networking Global Market Intelligence Service, the worldwide market for industrial infrastructure wired networking products, Ethernet and non-Ethernet  exceeded $1.8 billion in 2007, and is forecast to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.6% through 2012, to more than $5.6 billion.

Equipment in this segment include industrial-grade interconnect products such as connectors, cables and cord sets and distribution boxes; networking components including bridges, console servers, device servers, fiber optic  transceivers, gateways (protocol converters), hubs, modems, routers and switches. The grouping also includes network management software, which is usually sold separately or bundled with hardware shipments.

Products with Ethernet connectivity make up the bulk of this market. Shipment of these products exceeded $1.2 billion in 2007, and VDC expects shipments to increase at a 28.5% CAGR to more than $4.5 billion in 2012. The Ethernet share of the total networking market, which was approximately 69% in 2007, is expected to exceed 80% of the market in 2012.

The study points out that familiarity with Ethernet by both IT managers and process control engineers, along with the overall trust in Ethernet, has encouraged increasing numbers of suppliers to develop hardened products with Ethernet connectivity. Increasing competition has helped to lower prices, which encourages users to consider industrial wired Ethernet as their networking infrastructure.

While Ethernet increases in popularity, several proprietary devices use Ethernet as their connection basis, but still use specific protocols at the application layer. Examples of proprietary systems with Ethernet connectivity at the lower levels include Ethernet/IP, FOUNDATION Fieldbus HSE, Modbus TCP and Profinet.

For more information, visit

Is HACCP for packaging in your future?

While HACCP is a known entity for processing, it might just become a requirement in packaging as well.


Cover Story: Soup's on at StockPot

StockPot’s new state-of-the-art facility in Everett, WA facilitates the preparation of soup just the way Mom used to make it.

Fabulous Food Plant: West Liberty Foods

High throughput and flexible production drove much of the design in West Liberty Foods’ Tremonton, UT plant, which opened in August 2007.

Tech Update: Clean-in-place

Automated CIP saves water and energy while helping to meet quality and regulatory demands.

People, Plant and Industry News

Tom Johnson has joined Del Taco as director of consumer insights, a new position for the Mexican quick-serve chain.


Burger King Corp. is limiting sodium to 600 milligrams or less in all of its kids meals advertised to children under 12 years old.


PIAB appointed Per-Erik Lindquist to the position of CEO. Lindquist has 20 years experience at Scania and four years with Alfa-Laval.


Robert A. Paley, vice president and treasurer of the Monsanto Company, will retire effective January 31, 2009. Tom D. Hartley was named the new vice president and treasurer.


TCP signed a mutual design and supply agreement with EFP Corp. to provide cold chain products and services dedicated to the cold chain market in the Midwest region of the US.


Kevin Moore has been named parts and service manager for Spiroflow Systems, Inc. at the company’s headquarters in Charlotte, NC.


BlueCielo ECM Solutions promoted Brian Sallade to chief operating officer, overseeing the company’s global operations. Prior to this appointment, Sallade served as chief operating officer for North America.