Waking up in the morning for work or school can be rough without a piping hot, fresh cup of coffee. Coffee’s ability to warm and energize are not its only perks. As you may already know, coffee grounds can act as a great fertilizer for household greenery. But I bet you didn’t know this: One new discovery about the recycling of coffee grounds has led to a sustainable and environmentally friendly way to eliminate the odor of sewage plants – notorious for the awful rotten egg scent they expel.
This scent comes from the hydrogen sulfide gas (H2S) that is released when processing human waste. Combinations of multiple chemicals have been generated to try to counter the odor in the past. Each chemical must be carbonized in order to facilitate its reactivity to toxins. This can become expensive very quickly and is not always economically plausible.
However, a solution to this smelly problem may be at hand: scientists at City College of New York recently discovered that coffee grounds are naturally extremely reactive to air-born toxins such as H2S. The caffeine in coffee contains nitrogen. The nitrogen left in the used coffee grounds is extremely efficient for the process of absorption, or the ability to rid the air of sulfur released from the sewage plants.
The coffee grounds are carbonized, generating a substance that is similar in chemical properties to charcoal. The result is a substance that is the perfect consistency for filtering and trapping gaseous hydrogen sulfide molecules in the air. Not only does this process eliminate the malodorous effects of sewage plants, it also removes much of the H2S from the atmosphere altogether. Hydrogen sulfide has been known to be harmful to human health and can even be fatal in high quantities.
Dr. Teresa Bandosz, chemistry professor at CCNY, points out that: “We should not neglect the natural biomass that is rich in this element.”
To ignore the usefulness of coffee grounds produced every morning worldwide would be ignorant and wasteful. This new discovery enforces the importance of the alliterative and catchy phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle” because now, this caffeinated concoction can now be used both to start a day and save the day.