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Partic. vol. 43 pp. 92-100 (April 2019)
doi: 10.1016/j.partic.2018.06.002

Spent coffee grounds as a renewable source of energy: An analysis of bulk powder flowability

L. Massaro Sousa, M.C. Ferreira*

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    • Spent coffee grounds (SCG) have worse flowability than other biomasses. • Powders with mean diameters <350 μm and mixtures with >40% fines have poor flowability. • Dry and wet SCG have similar flowability up to a water content of 50%. • This knowledge could be used in process design of industrial plants handling SCG.


The main use for spent coffee grounds (SCG) produced in the soluble coffee industry is thermal energy generation in the industry itself. The SCG are processed using operations that are strongly dependent on powder flow behavior. In this study, we evaluated two classical flowability indices of non-consolidated SCG powders: the angle of repose (AoR), and the Hausner ratio (HR). The influences of the mean particle diameter, particle size distribution (PSD), and water content on the AoR and HR values of SCG were analyzed for powders with a mean particle size range of 225–550 μm. For powders with a mean particle size close to 350 μm and for mixtures containing more than 40% fine particles, the HR (>1.35) and AoR (>45°) values were characteristic of poor flowability. The AoR was sensitive to the powder PSD, and powders with similar mean particle sizes had higher AoR values when the PSD was larger. For powders with water contents up to 50%, the flowability indices were not greatly affected by the water content. A modified linear-mixture packing model was used to predict the packed bed void fractions for binary and ternary mixtures of the three base powders. The model was used to construct a ternary diagram to estimate the HR values of the mixtures. An equation was fitted to correlate HR and AoR. The proposed diagram and the equation provide insight into flow behavior and could be used for process design of industrial plants that handle SCG.

Graphical abstract


Spent coffee ground; Biomass; Flowability; Hausner ratio; Angle of repose