NYP Team Turns Coffee Waste into Fire Retardant
School of Chemical & Life Sciences Published on 16 Jan 2019

Coffee is certainly a very popular drink worldwide. 1.4 billion cups of coffee are drunk around the world every day. But this also means that we must find a way to dispose the tons of coffee waste generated responsibly.

Dr Henry Leung from the School of Chemical and Life Sciences and his team of three final-year students from the Diploma in Medicinal Chemistry found a way to lessen the environmental impact of coffee waste. They have turned used coffee grounds into a flame retardant that could potentially be used to improve fire safety in homes and offices.

By treating coffee waste and mixing it with epoxy resin – a material commonly found in floorings and walls of homes –  the team were able to leverage the slow-burning properties of coffee to create a material that could withstand a fire by as much as two times that of regular epoxy resin.

This new material has also attained an “HB” grading, which indicates slow burning on a horizontal specimen, based on initial findings by a third-party testing laboratory. Apart from its fire-resistant qualities, the coffee-epoxy resin has the potential to become a total solution for reducing coffee waste as grounding coffee waste into compost requires large storage space. The incineration of compost is also a space- and energy-consuming process.

Moving forward, the team is going to get their product tested and certified by external experts while exploring the multitude of uses for this ground-breaking material.  

Dr Henry Leung and his students are no strangers to turning coffee waste to sustainable products, they have also successfully created a biodegradable plastic from the coffee waste in 2017. Click here for the media coverage of the biodegradable plastic made from coffee waste.