SAN JOSE, June 28 (Xinhua) -- Costa Rican researchers have found a way to turn coffee waste into electric energy, the University of Costa Rica (UCR) announced on Wednesday.

The process also prevents ozone-depleting greenhouse gases, such as methane, from entering the atmosphere by capturing the gases emitted by decomposing coffee waste and using them to power internal combustion engines.

Research students at the university's School of Chemical Engineering undertook the project to help Costa Rica's coffee growers decrease their impact on the environment.

Lead researcher Cindy Torres said the main objective was to offer coffee producers the knowledge and tools for treating a product waste that has "historically been problematic."

In addition to decreasing the emission of greenhouse gases, the process can save the producers money on fuel.

"It's about a cleaner production method and the country's responsibility to continue to improve agricultural practices," said Torres.

Costa Rica's Environment and Energy Ministry is supporting the team's work, as are the Coffee Institute of Costa Rica and the Ministry of Agriculture, among other agencies, as part of what is known as "nationally appropriate mitigation action" or NAMA.

NAMA refers to policies each country can take to meet commitments to cutting down on greenhouse gases.