The Viridian Design Movement

Viridian Note 00288: Coffee Toys

Bruce Sterling []

Key concepts: recycled coffee grounds, batteries, solar-powered latte frother, Sony

Attention Conservation Notice: It's about weird gizmos.


Entries in the Enron Logo Contest:

Viridian contest site


This Contest Ends January 12, 2002.


(((I got a solar-powered latte-frother for Christmas!)))


(((Not only does this knicknack froth a latte, but it even scrambles, or rather spatters, eggs! I could scarcely be more pleased with it, for the sheer impracticality of this self-indulgent little gizmo makes it downright subversive in today's environment. We must champion Viridian piezoelectric shoes in a grim world of shoe-bombs!

(((In order to massively irritate the return-to-sincerity contingent (especially gullible, humorless zealots who blow their own feet off), we Viridians will spend a lot of 2002 ardently hunting for devices that are markedly inefficient, unmilitary, toylike and even epicene. Our culture is suffering a cute-gizmo famine. It's up to us Viridians to redress this crisis. Send in field reports if you spot them. This is raw culture war, and our gloves are off: they just can't be too pretty or too silly.)))


"Sony Shows Lithium-Ion Battery Using Waste Coffee Ground Electrodes (((It's Exhibit A!)))

"December 26, 2001 (TOKYO) == Sony Corp. exhibited a lithium-ion secondary battery that uses carbons of strained coffee grounds as the negative electrode at the Echo Products 2001 held at Tokyo Big Sight from Dec. 13- 15, 2001. (((One has to wonder if they didn't mean "Eco Products" == or even "Big Site.")))

"The company said that it has currently established a mass-production process, which had been proposed, for the carbonaceous negative electrodes using waste coffee grounds. The achievement of using coffee grounds as material of negative electrode already have been disclosed in the company's environmental report. (((And I read it. Or rather, I tried to.)))

"A lot of grounds from strained coffee beans are available, estimated to be 300,000 tons annually, where coffee-in-a-can is consumed in large quantities in Japan. However, there was no recycling method for those lees, so it is expected to be an efficient utilization to use in the lithium-ion secondary battery as a negative electrode.

"This means not only the utilization of industrial wastes, but also the cost reduction of lithium-ion secondary batteries. When the large quantity of recycling becomes available, the cost of materials for electrodes can be less than half the current price, and the manufacturing cost of batteries may be reduced by about 2- 10 percent. Moreover, the expected characters of the batteries will be mostly comparable with the company's commercially available products. Yet, the material used is low crystallized carbon known as hard carbon, which is different from widely used graphite of a high degree of crystallinity. (((Yes folks, this is skewing way past Japanglish into unintentional engineering humor.)))

"The established manufacturing process is as follows: At first, bacteria are mixed with the coffee grounds (((!))) and dehydrate the moisture, which is 80 percent of the volume. Then the bacteria will generate heat during the course of fermentation that raises the temperature up to 70 degrees centigrade. (((It's bacterially roasted waste coffee grounds, ladies and gentlemen!)))

"Natural carbonization is conducted in order to restrain the eventual production of tar. Natural carbonization means 'steam-baking' while adjusting the supply of oxygen that prevents from excessive baking. The volume and weight are said to become one tenth after processing. After the baking dry-out, those will be baked at the temperature of 1,200 degree centigrade and use the same conventional method to generate the negative electrode." (((Just one design problem here.... how are you supposed to separate 300,000 tons of wet coffee grounds into a zillion little Walkman batteries? Well, if anybody's up for that, it's dear old Yamato.)))

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