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Arthur Kay of bio-bean

Arthur Kay
London, United Kingdom

A lot of students have been powered by coffee, but since his brainwave in 2012, Arthur Kay has taken things to another level. Working on a pioneering type of coffee-based energy, bio-bean has grown at a pace. With Shell’s support, the company aims to make London the first of many green cities around the world.

The idea was always simple. As an architecture student at London’s Bartlett School, Arthur Kay (23) was designing a coffee shop. Working with his now co-founder Benjamin Harriman (28), the pair soon came to the problem of waste disposal. It was at this point that the potential of coffee grounds as a power source came to their minds.

London alone produces over 200,000 tonnes of waste coffee annually. bio-bean converts these used coffee grounds into biodiesel and biomass briquettes. Ultimately, bio-bean’s own biodiesel-powered vans will pick up the waste coffee, producing 1.3 million litres of biodiesel every year and 1.2 million tonnes of biomass pellets.

The genius of this end-to-end energy solution was not lost on Shell who, having awarded bio-bean with a Shell LiveWIRE Grand Ideas award earlier in the year, in November 2013, awarded Arthur the Shell LiveWIRE Innovation Award. This £5,000 (US $7,500) prize money went straight back into the company for research and marketing. Encouraged by their success, bio-bean entered the Shell Springboard programme for low-carbon SMEs. Fast-forward to February 2014 and bio-bean had received an additional £40,000 (US $60,700) in start-up funding.

This ringing endorsement for bio-bean soon attracted others keen to celebrate the company’s success. Receiving a Santander Universities Entrepreneurship award, Arthur and bio-bean were also recognised by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson as a ‘green trailblazer’. Shell too, has continued to support bio-bean’s development, assisting with their continued quest to research and develop advanced biofuels.

Arthur and bio-bean are now going from strength-to-strength, to date raising over £1.2 million (US $1.8m) in financing. With this money, the company has gone into small-scale operations and has secured a 20,000 square feet processing plant in Risby, Suffolk. The company has now expanded to 14 people, has a number of corporate partnerships already signed and aims to export their success as soon as possible.


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