Past Initiative News

Visiting Scientist from Colombia conducts research at USDA Lab

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Contact: Ruben Contreras Lisperguer
Energy and Climate Change Engineer
(202) 458-3244

Visiting Scientist from Colombia conducts research at USDA Lab

Senior researcher with extensive coffee research experience will work with scientists from Illinois State University

Washington, D.C., December 17, 2012 – Juan Carlos Lopez a Senior Research Scientist at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones de Café (CENICAFE) will contribute his expertise to study and develop innovative fermentation and coffee processing technologies at the USDA’s National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, IL, from November 2012 until September 2012. Dr. Lopez will be working with senior research scientists from United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Illinois State University.

Dr. Lopez ‘s expertise centers on conducting research to reduce the use of chemicals to control pests and diseases in coffee plantations by implementing biological tools as a viable alternative for farmers. In parallel to this, Juan Carlos has been working within different organisms such as fungi, bacteria and nematodes to improve quality and yield of coffee in Colombia with outstanding results.

During his research at USDA Juan Carlos will be exploring potential uses of coffee waste (about 90% of dry weight from the coffee fruit is waste and pulp and mucilage) that are the most important energy potential byproducts to generate electricity and biofuels. The goal of this project is to focus on potential uses of the coffee waste stream as a source of biomass to generate renewable energy to add value to coffee production and achieve environmental benefits.

The project brings together a diverse team of researchers and partners and directly supports the renewable energy pillar of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA). This research also builds on a parallel ECPA initiative lead by USDA to promote production and use of agricultural biomass for renewable energy in Ecuador, Honduras and Uruguay. The USDA, Agricultural Research Service’s National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (Peoria, Illinois), the FNC’s research institute, Cenicafé (Chinchiná, Colombia) and university partners are interested in collaborative research and demonstrations of potential uses of coffee biomass waste streams for renewable energy. For the period of this proposed project (November 2012-September 2013), the collaborative research and demonstrations will focus on producing ethanol from coffee pulp and mucilage.

From left to right: Dr. Stephen Hughes, Molecular Biologist, Renewable Product Technology Research Unit; Dr. Bruce S. Dien, Chemical Engineer, Bioenergy Research Unit; Mr. Juan C. Lopez-N Microbiologist, Recursos Naturales y Conservac ion, Cenicafe; M. Sc. Loren B. Iten, Microbiologist, Bioenergy Reseach Unit; Mr. Elby Joe Cox, Masters student candidate at Bradley University, Renewable Product Technology Research Unit.


The Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) is a flexible mechanism through which governments in the Western Hemisphere may voluntarily lead multi-country or bilateral initiatives to promote clean energy, advance energy security, fight energy poverty, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions for a sustainable Americas. For more information on ECPA initiatives, news and events, please visit,